Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Daisy at the Old Vulture Mine

Daisy's adventures during her two weeks with us here in Arizona come to an end with this post. On her last full day, Denis and I decided to take her to a genuine Old West ghost town, Vulture City, which sprang up around Arizona's most successful gold mine, the Vulture Mine, in 1866. If you'd like to read more about it, just follow the Vulture Mine link above.

This was the first ghost town I visited when I moved to Phoenix. (I'd gotten the ghost town bug while living in Utah.) At that time, the Vulture Mine Road was a dirt road, and you could walk around Vulture City to your heart's content. My first trip there is so vivid-- I had a roadrunner come out of the brush at the side of the road and pace my car for almost a half mile before it disappeared into the brush again. (It goes without saying that I slowed down, down, down to make the experience last as long as possible.) Now the road is paved, and there's an entry fee to Vulture City. When you pay, a fluorescent ribbon is tied around your wrist so the armed guards know you have a right to be there... well, as long as it's within visiting hours. Yes, you read that properly. Armed guards. There's a good reason which I'll get to later on in my photo tour.

Historic plaque telling you a bit about the history of the Vulture Mine. It's worth reading, so click on it to view it in a readable size.

The Vulture's Roost used to be the superintendent's house but is now the gift shop and guest check-in area.

I love how all the buds on the arms of this saguaro formed perfect little caps. You don't see this very often. Did you know that a saguaro doesn't grow its first arm until it's reached the ripe old age of 75? These giants deserve our respect.

The kitchen and bar for mine workers. Since most of the eating is al fresco that says a lot about the climate here in the Sonoran Desert. But when the wind blows, you'd sure get a mouthful of grit with your food!

Inside the kitchen. Never ceases to amaze me how folks cooked so much with so little "back in the day."

In the kitchen.

The original mine was closed in 1942. It recently reopened and mining is being done now on a limited basis just over that hill. I don't know about you, but I've always wanted to know what's over the next hill. (And mining is Reason #1 for the armed guards.)

Daisy out in front of the old gas station. I've always had a fondness for Mobil gas signs.

Gold-en Girl Cola sign perfect for catching miners' eyes. It sounds like it was heavily laced with caffeine.

Restoration is an ongoing process.

If I'd packed more water, I might've gone to see what's on the other side of this hill.

The town brothel with founder Henry Wickenburg's house in the background. Must've been interesting living next door to the brothel.

Henry Wickenburg's house, complete with outhouse. Not only did the man live next door to the brothel, the hanging tree was right out front. The man wasn't short on entertainment.

It's not often you get to stand below the noose on a hanging tree.

The Assay Office where the gold and silver was taken to be graded and then shipped. On my first visit, we were told that this had been built from cast-off rocks from the mine and that the walls contained tens of thousands of dollars worth of gold and silver ore. Not a peep is said about this today because, for years, people were sneaking in and taking anything they wanted. Now you see why the armed guards make sense?

The main entrance to the Assay Office

The door on the left leads to where the gold and silver bars were stored before shipment. The door on the right leads to the guards' living quarters.

Inside the Assay Office

Daisy walking down the main street past the post office and toward the Assay Office. Phoenix owes its existence to the Vulture Mine. Almost all the miners' food was grown here in the Salt River Valley and shipped to them by wagon.

There are a lot of photos I didn't share simply because I didn't want this post to go on forever. There is quite a bit of old mining equipment lying around. Many pieces have labels telling you what they are and what they were used for. My favorite is the Hit and Miss motor, one of the smallest they used at the mine. I have a feeling that the name says a lot about the motor!

I hope you enjoyed the tour. If you ever find yourself up that way, make sure you wear a wide-brimmed hat, are slathered down with sunscreen, and have plenty of water to drink. It gets more than a bit crispy out in that blazing sun!


  1. More great pics and what a fun place to visit! Interesting about the assay office building!

    1. It's still one of my favorite ghost towns, and it's outside one of my favorite towns in Arizona, Wickenburg. Yep, Wickenburg had a town named after him, too!

  2. That is really fascinating. Glad you shared it. I wonder why the original guy shot a vulture. They are just the nature clean-up crew. LOL

    1. He was an Austrian. Maybe he didn't know it was a vulture and was so hungry that he was shooting at anything. Or... the vulture had landed on something Wickenburg had shot for his dinner and Wickenburg took exception!


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