Early on a Saturday morning we headed off to join the Vulture Mine Tour. Discovered in 1863 by Henry Wickenburg, the Vulture Mine, according to an informational plaque, sparked the development of Arizona and the city of Phoenix, not to mention the town of Wickenburg.
The current owners of the Vulture Mine believe there is still a lot of high grade ore to be found in the mine, which, with modern mining equipment and techniques can now be mined. A guided tour is the only way to view the historic remains.
Our guide was an experienced geologist who told us about the mining techniques then and how they differed or not from modern mining.
Old drill bits
Old machinery litters the site and as we walked around our guide explained what the machines did. He also showed us a mine shaft and I’m sure he said it went straight down for 700ft.
This is an old mine lift and was used for either men or machinery and dropped straight down a wood lined shaft. If the steel cable lowering the lift failed notches in the wood stopped it falling to the bottom. I’m not sure how they got you out though! I don’t think I could’ve gone down that narrow shaft.
We walked past the remains of the Post Office before spotting an almost intact snakeskin.
Our next stop was the eating house and saloon, the old bar and floor are still there, I bet they could tell a few tales.
The remains of Henry Wickenburgs house has pipes sticking out through the walls, these pipes provided cooling air in the summer and he could also shoot through them if necessary. I’ve never seen that type of security/air con system before, but hey if it works………………….
Right next to that is the hanging tree, 18 men were hung here for highgrading or stealing gold ore.
The biggest building is the assay office, which also contained the bullion store, inside you can see an old staircase and even an old sewing machine.
The final part of our tour took us down into what is called ‘The Glory Hole’ this is a collapsed section where old mine workings have given way and you can see into the old shafts.
White markings on the rocks show where new blastings will take place.
Our guide told us that if we found a piece of ore on our walk out of the ‘Glory Hole’ we could keep it. Well, despite listening to him all morning it still all just looked right bits of rock to us.
All the old buildings on site are made of high grade ore, which with modern techniques could be extracted, but as they are historical remains, they’ll be left just as they are.
There is a lot more to the Vulture Mine site but it’s a working mine so it’s not possible to see it all.
Have fun, we are!