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