Tag Archives: silver

Historic Mining at the Tonopah-Belmont Mine

People who are interested in prospecting for gold often find mining history fascinating. There are many stories about old mines and the history of the towns that surrounded them. Even though many historic mines are abandoned, they still attract a lot of interest from mining historians. The Tonopah-Belmont mine was active when people were prospecting for gold in the area over 100 years ago.

People began migrating to the Tonopah area of Arizona in the early 19th active around the time of World War I as people began settling in the area. They weren’t attracted to prospecting for gold at the time. Most of the first settlers came for the climate. Many World War I veterans had breathing problems due to exposure to poisonous mustard gas during the war. Tonopah has a dry climate which eased the respiratory problems that plagued veterans.

tonopah-belmontProspecting for gold began in the area around the mid-19th not just a boom for gold prospecting. In addition to gold, the mine produced lead, silver and copper. A permanent settlement developed in the area and was named Tonopah. The Tonopah-Belmont mine got its name from two different sources. It was named Tonopah after a famous mine in the state of Nevada. The mine was also named for its location in the Belmont mines of Arizona. The mine’s deepest shaft goes down to 500 feet with workings at 100, 250 and 400 feet.

Although first incidences of prospecting for gold in the area took place around 1860, the mine wasn’t active immediately. Its main activity took place sporadically from around 1860 through 1950. The mine has a special distinction. No miner was killed during the operation of the Tonopah-Belmont Mine. The mine was open to tourists until 1990. A man who may have been prospecting for gold entered the mine and fell to his death. After that time, the entrances were barricaded so that no tourists could enter. However, this historic site known for gold prospecting can be viewed from a distance. Visitors can see the mine by taking the Belmont Mountain Trail.

The Ghost Town of Vulture City

vulture mineVulture City is a ghost town near Wickenburg in Maricopa County, Arizona. The Vulture Mine was a robust gold mining area during its heyday. The Vulture mine was discovered by Henry Wickenburg in 1863. Vulture City sprang up around the gold mining area. The mine was active from around 1863 through 1942. It produced over 340,000 ounces of gold and a significant amount of silver. The gold mining operation produced over $7,000,000 in gold based on the prices of the time period. The amount would be significantly more at today’s prices.

The town was notorious like most mining towns in that time period. There were many tales of murder, chaos and stagecoach robberies. The superintendent of the gold mining operation was killed during a stagecoach robbery. The Vulture Mine was closed down in 1942 due to World War II. All citizen efforts were supposed to be focused on the war effort instead of gold mining activity. The mine reopened after the war but did not prosper. It closed for good a few years later.

After mining ceased in the area, Vulture City rapidly became a ghost town. However, it is home to a famous legend. It is referred to as the site of the Other Lost Dutchman or Oro Blanco mine. The legend surrounds a gold mining professional of German original who worked around Wickenburg in the 1870s. Supposedly, he mined at night and snuck around to make it impossible for others to find the source of his gold. One night, he left to mine and never came home. Most people assumed he was killed by the Apaches in the area, but human remains were found in 1895 near a small prospect hole. The human remains were found with sacks of gold.

Vulture City is a fun attraction for tourists who are interested in gold mining. There are a variety of buildings that still stand. Tourists can take guided tours of the mine and the remaining structures. Because of its notorious history as a gold mining town, there are legends of paranormal activity in the area. In 2010, The Vulture mine was the subject of a Ghost Adventures episode on the Travel Channel.