Neighbors Elaine and Ron went with Ms. Karen and me to Wickenburg one weekend in late May 2021. To avoid Phoenix traffic we drove from Tucson through Gila Bend then north on Hwy 85 to Hwy 60. Before reaching Wickenburg, we came to Vulture City, the site of an old gold mine. Discovered in 1863 by Henry Wickenburg, between 1863 and 1942, the Vulture Mine produced over 340,000 ounces of gold and 260,000 ounces of silver.
In 1942, the War Production Board ordered the mine shut and the town was completely abandoned after World War II. Currently, Vulture City is a tourist attraction, a wedding venue, and a go-to-place for ghost hunters. Jay and Marie Yates from the Travel Channel’s Haunted Case Files host Vulture City Ghost Legends Tours throughout the year. They claim to have encountered the ghost of a 10-year-old girl named Lizzy who died on-site as well as Joseph, a 19-year-old fellow who was hung from the “Hanging Tree”.
There were quite a few cars in the parking lot when we arrived around 11 am. We headed to the little stand that sells tickets, paid $12 each for our wrist bands, and took off to see the “city”. Or at least what remains of this old town. There were quite a few exhibits of old miners’ paraphernalia around the grounds and a dozen outbuildings. In the distance, we saw the workings of a modern gold mine. We could enter most of the old buildings and observed the19th century furnishings. The cookhouse, for example, had an old wood-burning stove.
The brothel had a bedroom and dining room adjacent to the living room. One of the curiosities was a framed certificate, a license for prostitution: $2.50 issued to a Miss Texas Rose.
Next to the brothel was the doctor’s office. Making the floor of the brothel are the original hard-wood slats.
Vulture City is open seven days a week and ghost hunters can enjoy a self-guided tour or a 2-hour guided tour on weekends from October to June.
We spent about 2 hours touring Vulture City then headed into Wickenburg. Wickenburg was founded by Henry Wickenburg, a miner who discovered the Vulture Mine about 10 miles out of town. It’s known for its myriad of dude ranches from the early 20th century.
Before arriving in town, we stopped at Los Caballeros Golf Course for lunch. We had a table overlooking the driving range. The weather was superb, high 70’s, low 80’s.
After lunch, it was off to our inn, My Place Suites, a few blocks from old town Wickenburg. It is currently owned by Milla, a delightful lady of Russian descent, but under a contract of sale. My Place Suites was quite welcoming with its gardens and private spaces, we could not imagine a better place to spend our off time. We ordered pizza delivered both nights we were there, and enjoyed a private picnic/cooking area next to our casita rooms. We hope that any new management will keep up the quaint spaces at this great find.
On the morning before we returned to Tucson, we took a self-guided walking tour of Old Town Wickenburg. It was early and all the shops were closed. Along the way there were mannequins dressed in period costumes attached to a voice recording of their story. One I recall was a lady who owned the hotel and cafe in town. The other was a school teacher arriving by train with her baggage in tow.
There was the old red brick schoolhouse in the park along the main drag and across the street was a statue of an old miner leading his burro in front of a building. On the way to the train exhibit, we came across a western mural on the side of a building. There is a 200-year-old mesquite tree, located at the corner of US-60 (Wickenburg Way) and Tegner Street, served as the town jail from 1863 to 1890 with outlaws chained to the tree.
The train exhibit had an engine with a caboose with some signage telling their story. The railroad arrived in Wickenburg in July 1895, connecting the town with Phoenix and Prescott. A depot was built in July of that year. It now houses the Chamber of Commerce.
Next, Route 66 and Oatman.