John S. Cain House

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The spirit of a surly Chinese maid still has a grudge!



As it was built in 1879 for his family by the richest man in town, it is one of the biggest homes in Bodie, with a lovely set of Victorian front windows in the living room and a large second floor. It has a fireplace, bathroom and windows with simple decorations made out of wood. It is comfortable enough to house rangers and their families year round.

At times, the John S. Cain House has been open for tours.



John S. Cain moved to Bodie when he was just twenty-five. He entered the lumber business, and used barges on Mono Lake to bring timber to the Bodie mines. He used the money earned in this endeavor, to invest in a wagon freighting venture, and in leasing the Bodie Railroad and Lumber Company. He and his friend, Joe Maguire, leased a block of land from the Standard Mine and Mill for three months, and made a fortune, mining out from this parcel the huge amount of $90,000 in gold, in these 90 days! Needless to say, their lease wasn’t renewed! So, they bought their own stake right next to the Standard Mine.

In the end, John S. Cain wound up owning the Standard Mine and Mill, with the help of the courts, after Standard Mine stole gold from Cain’s mine.

Cain became the Town’s “principal property owner”, and possibly the wealthiest man in town! He built the finest house in Bodie, though by big city standards it was a modest house.


Looking at the original floor plans, courtesy of the Library of Congress, you see a small foyer just inside the front door, that leads to a short hallway. Off the hallway, there is one large room with a hearth on the left, and two other rooms on the right.

A far door at the back of the second room leads to a short hallway where the stairs to the second floor are located. This hallway leads to the large back room on the left, which has a door that opens into a third room on the right. At some point, a more modern kitchen was added to this back right room. There are three rooms on the second floor, with stairs leading to the attic area.

Most of the roof is made of cedar shingles, but some roofing is made of galvanized iron. Over the years, storage structures were built, as well as a mini-front porch.

Of course, Cain had a beautiful stone and carved wood fireplace built in his dream home. Its facing is stone, except the mantle and moldings, that are made of wood. Its back is made of bricks. The chimney iss built in fancy patterns of bricks.

Downstairs interior doors have transoms, at the top of each door, to allow breezes to cool down the room.

With his status as a wealthy man, Cain could hire servants as well to take care of chores and his family.

He hired a lovely Chinese woman to help with chores and take care of the children. But something about this servant, probably her beauty and her tendency to flirt with Mr. Cain, rubbed Mrs. Martha Cain the wrong way, and she asked Mr. Cain to fire the woman. It was rumored that this Chinese maid was Mr. Cain’s mistress. Uh Oh! The woman’s reputation as a servant was dragged through the mud of public opinion. Consequently, she couldn’t find any other respectable work in Bodie. As she couldn’t leave town and didn’t want to work as a prostitute, she killed herself.

Long after the mines closed, the John S. Cain House has been a home for many people. In 1962, when the state of California made the town of Bodie a state historical park, the John S. Cain House became a popular abode for state workers. Recently, it has housed rangers and their families. It has also been part of the tour for visitors, who can see how the rich in Bodie lived.



When a person dies because of bad treatment or injustice at the hands of another person, they sometimes hang around this world after they pass, seeking restitution, either by reaching out to those in this world for justice, or taking it out on the living who remind them of their tormentor. Sometimes they make themselves feel better by poking at the living for chuckles.




Doors open and close by themselves with nothing physical seemingly to explain it.

The entity of the dismissed Chinese Maid

Strongly makes her presence felt in this world, especially in the bedrooms. Sounds of a music box are heard coming from the upstairs bedroom.

This maid likes children who have lived here, or those of visiting tourists.

She has appeared to them in the bedroom upstairs. Children who are touring Bodie with their parents have seen her smiling at them in a window in the upstairs bedroom.

This maid likes to annoy teenagers who have lived here.

A ranger’s fifteen year old daughter went to bed in the upstairs bedroom. As soon as she got into bed, the lights went on by themselves. She got out of bed, and turned them off again. The lights went on again. After five or six times, the teen yelled at the unseen prankster, and ran downstairs.

Grudge Holder

Unfortunately, this maid holds a grudge against adults who spend the night or live in The John S. Cain House.

Park rangers and their wives who have lived in the house have physically experienced her in alarming ways. Rangers and their wives are tough people, and they didn’t leave.

One ranger was lying in bed in the downstairs bedroom. He saw the bedroom door open by itself, felt a cold presence enter the room, and then felt a heavy pressure on top of him, and a sense of suffocation.

In this same bedroom, a ranger and his wife were in bed. The wife felt a heavy pressure on top of her, and she couldn’t move. She fought hard against it, and wound up falling onto the bedroom floor.


Probably so, unless the state of California had a blessing and exorcism done on the John S. Cain House. The maid spirit’s anger against her employers and the living who fit the description age-wise of the Cains is what is keeping her stuck in the house. Unless someone can help and release her, she will be stuck in this place, harboring a bad attitude toward any adults who stay here.

Many experiences have been reported by rangers, their families and tourists of all ages.

No hard evidence gathered by paranormal or psychic investigations has been made public. I bet they at least had a psychic investigation done after rangers had complained about her bullying behavior.


# 6 Park Street, in Bodie State Historic Park
Hwy 395
Bridgeport, California 93517
(760) 647-6445

John S. Cain House sits on the corner of Green and Park Streets in Bodie State Historic Park.


  • Bodie State Historic Park Booklet
    by the Bodie Foundation
    1988 California State Parks – 2010

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Our Photos are copyrighted by Tom Carr

Haunts in California