Historic Gold Mine Tours
Lying at the base of Vulture Peak (the most visible landmark in the Wickenburg area), The Vulture Gold Mine was first staked by Henry Wickenburg in 1863, fueling the small gold rush that helped populate this section of the Arizona desert.
Today, the Vulture Mine has the feel of a ghost town, and though you can’t go down into the old mine itself, you can wander around the aboveground shacks and mine structures on a self-guided tour. Mildly interesting for those who appreciate old mines, and fun for kids.
Henry sold the mine after a few years. The Vulture, however, went on to become the most productive gold mine in the history of Arizona. Vulture City grew to a population of almost five thousand people. The mine sparked the development of Arizona and the city of Phoenix.
The Vulture Mine is said to have produced gold worth more than $200 million dollars, but the exact amount is unknown. Some say that nearly half of the Vulture’s gold was stolen. “Highgrading” or theft of the high grade ore was common at the Vulture. At least 18 men were hung on the Vulture City’s hanging tree, nearly all for highgrading.
When President Franklin Roosevelt closed the mine in 1942 (WW II) many miners left believing that they would return in six months, but the mine never reopened. Almost overnight a once thriving community became a ghost town.
When most people think of prospectors, they think of panning for gold. Panning for gold involves gold placers, defined as gold contained in gravel and sand. This form of gold was originally embedded in rock. Natural erosion processes wore down the rock into gravel and sand. With gold placers, separating the gold is a relatively easy processing of washing the gravel and sand from the heavier gold.
With mining, the gold is still embedded in the rock. First, the miner must dig the rock out of the ground. Then he must pulverize the rock. Only after this can the miner use panning methods to separate the gold from the rest of the rock.
Guests staying at the Gold Bar Ranch can take a tour of the Vulture Gold Mine by taking a short drive to Wickenburg.
There are also other gold mines near the Gold Bar Ranch that can reached by horses or an ATV ride.
Let the Gold Bar Ranch know if you would like to see an old gold mine and they will set it up.