Vulture City Ghost Mining Town

Can you vision it in your mind? Dust devils blowing through the landscape, tumbleweed blowing past your front door, and saguaros standing tall under the heat of the blistering desert sun. It took a certain kind of pioneer, known to most as prospectors, to leave their Midwest homes to come to a place in the Sonoran desert called Arizona! Men would uproot their families to go across country, on wagon, to find Gold!

They came cross country and left everything they knew to find a better life. Gold and Silver was going to bring that to them …they hoped!

In 1863 Henry Wickenburg a German immigrant came to Arizona and found Gold.


He filed a federal claim and called it Vulture.

**To give you an understanding… it’s pretty darn hard to find Gold just laying on the ground. In some cases it’s in creek beds, under ground, in Quartz and deep into rock ore. (In our own personal case we look for dirty quartz or rotten quartz when we are on our prospecting club’s claim in the desert.)

We have a rock crusher and will crush this dirty quartz. (Making sure to only take it from our prospecting club claims.) And YES there usually is gold in it! Very small minute specks to tiny pieces called pickers so we still are not RICH! 😃 This is just one way of finding Gold. We prospect other ways as well for fun.

I digressed…Back to Henry…!!

Henry Wickenburg gathered some friends and began to labor hard and started finding more and more Gold in the quartz. People came from all around. This area became known as Vulture City and 5,000 people lived here. It was the largest Gold Mining operation in Arizona!

One of the first houses at Vulture City. The small new building behind is Security. They keep an eye out on this Ghost town and still working Gold Mine.

Tours are given today to view the remains of Vulture City. This Ghost Mining Town is being lovingly restored by a private group. They are trying to replicate it using the adobe mud, wood, timber and rock in the area. Pictures from a local historical society are used.

Joyce was our tour guide. She did a fabulous job!

This is what the miners would dig up from the mine.

Below is the old head frame from Vulture Mine.

The miners would lower the ore cart down into the Mine. Then fill it and pull it back up and load it into a hopper which then got dumped into their crushers and stamping mill.

Just think about it…24/7 the sound of drilling, crushing and stamping …would drive me crazy!

I love seeing a head frame so intact! Many mines I have been too here in AZ are broken down. So sad! These are part of our history!

A jaw crusher… used to crush that rock! In the background you can see the actual Gold Mining Operation in place today!

Used to bring water up out of the Mine. Yes it does rain and rain would flood the Mine at times.

A shaft elevator to help bring miners in and out of mine.

Once the Gold was found from the ore it was taken to the Assay Office. Where it was smelted and made into Gold Bricks and stored in the vault.

The building in the background is the Assay Office. That building was all in shambles before it was restored.

Looking down into the vault.

The vault was heavily guarded as the Assay Office was burglarized often. Remember this was the Wild Wild West!

Plus… $200 million dollars of gold came out of this mine!

I like the above shot of the window looking out at a tree. That tree is The Hanging Tree!!

Supposedly 18 men were hung from this tree! 10 for sure! It’s the Wild West!

Henry Wickenburg lived in the small house below. Small because it was less to clean.

He was constantly thinking someone was going to rob him.

He had these small holes all around the home so he could point a gun through them. To scare off those criminals.

Below we view the Brothel where the “Ladies of the Night” lived.

Inside the brothel …hints of the Painted Ladies or prostitutes.

Their gentleman would clean up back here in the mud room. It Still needs a bit of restoring.

The men would wait and sit on the benches…

Everyone had to eat and drink!

The original bar! They found most of it intact!

This building is slowly getting restored!


A Large refrigerator!


Below are captures of other buildings on the property.

The blacksmith was needed for so much! To fix drill bits, weld, or fix the machines!

Inside the blacksmith building you can find the air compressor.

Joyce showing what the Blacksmith would do.

The Competition Rock!

The competition rock is below! This is where miners would show how quick they could drill through rock in order to get the job to mine!

Joyce showing how they blew out the holes to keep the dust out or the drills would get stuck!

It is so nice to see that this Ghost Town is being restored. It’s full of history and it was the largest mine in AZ …and it is still producing Gold! Because of it… people came to Arizona which helped it become a state.

I sure hope you enjoyed the tour we went on!

See what editing can do to a photo! Looks like it’s from 1920

35 thoughts on “Vulture City Ghost Mining Town

  1. How wonderful that the ghost town is being restored. So much to be learned on a tour such as this. I would be fascinated. Hard to imagine actually living it but fun to to be able to live it this way.

    1. Well aren’t you the sweetest! First Cindy and now you! Thank you for commenting! Thanks fir the love and support!

  2. What a fun place. It’s wonderful to see so many of the old buildings and pieces of equipment are still there. We visited a few areas in Alaska and the Yukon where there are gold mining dredges and other pieces of equipment still around. We panned for gold and brought back a little (of course it was a tourist attraction and the gold was put there for us to find)! We went by a few of the mines that are still active.

    1. The active gold mines are so fun to see as they Mine a whole different way now. Sweet man and I have found Gold but let’s just say… we didn’t take it to the bank! Lol!!

  3. Nancy, the Wild, Wild West history is so intriguing! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful photos, knowledgeable commentary, and great history lesson with us! There is so much to learn of our breathtaking scenic country and its history! My hubby will enjoy your post! Have a wonderful weekend!

  4. I need to see this in real life! I love Ghost Towns. My absolute favorite is Bodie (CA,) I think..there’s so many cool places to choose from. I love Virginia City (NV) very much as well, but I guess that’s just half a Ghost Town, since part of it is very much alive alongside the old buildings. Great post Nancy!

  5. great pictures and narrative; so good to be living in this part of the country, still a little wild !

  6. We have boondocked several times on the Vulture mine road. Last year, we drove to the ghost town, but there was no one around. This looks really awesome though, we will have to try again sometime.

  7. I visited this old mine several years ago before it was restored. It looks so different than my photographs! Part of me wishes we were still in Arizona and we could meet in person. Best wishes for a happy life! Tamara

    1. Hi Tamara! It’s so good to hear from you! I hope you are doing well and staying safe.
      Yes Vulture City has been restored and even more so then when we visited. It’s also well marketed on Facebook so many more people know about it.
      Thanks for stopping by an take good care of yourself.

Thank You So Much... for sharing your kind words. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to share your thoughts.