First Time in an Old Mining Town

Greg really wanted to see either Indian ruins or a ghost town, and since Greg hardly ever really wants to do things (he’s a go with the flow kind of guy), both Cori and I tried to find some in our area.  Unfortunately, the Indian ruins are really more on on the east side of Arizona, but Cori did find an old mining town nearby.  As we later discovered the Castle Dome Mine Museum is a re-creation of the mining community that was on that site since the 1800’s.  There are 7 original buildings and several original mine holes and the re-created buildings were often made with materials that were left in the area.  The historical accuracy of the mining town is somewhat in dispute, which bugged Lee a little, but someone obviously went to a great deal of trouble and at $10 a person the price was right.  I thought it was pretty cool and particularly liked the little stories they had gathered from children who had lived in the community.  Also, it is way out in the desert and next to a national refuge so the surrounding scenery was pretty beautiful and we got to see one of the border balloons up close.  Overall I would recommend it, just don’t expect a typical ghost town, or you will be disappointed.  

Beautiful views of Castle Dome driving in

Beautiful views of Castle Dome driving in

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The signs along the dirt road were a little scary though. Definitely no wandering off the path

The signs along the dirt road were a little scary though. Definitely no wandering off the path

And we got to see the cool border balloon coming in

And we got to see the cool border balloon coming in

Luckily when we were leaving they had brought down the balloon (not sure why) and you could see how much equipment was attached to it. Plus it anchors in this cool antenna looking thing. Very Very neat

Luckily when we were leaving they had brought down the balloon (not sure why) and you could see how much equipment was attached to it. Plus it anchors into the cool antenna looking thing. Very, very neat

After a 9 mile trek down the dirt road we arrived at the site

After a 9 mile trek down the dirt road we arrived at the site

The outside was not much to look at but did have some really cool cacti around

The outside was not much to look at but did have some really cool cacti around

These we haven't seen much and they were all around 3 feet tall

These cacti (I just like saying cacti) we haven’t seen much and they were all around 3 feet tall

They even have little flowers on some and you have to be careful because the needles will "grab" you

They even have little flowers on some and you have to be careful because the needles will “grab” you

After paying $10 (cash only) we went inside and it was much better

After paying $10 (cash only) we went inside and it was much better

Schoolhouse for the kids

Schoolhouse for the kids.  The manikins were pretty cheesy

the outer edge had a mine cart

The outer edge had a mine cart

Barber shop

Barber shop

Huge mining equipment. I made Cori stand there for scale

Huge mining equipment. I made Cori stand there for scale

General Store

General Store

One of the 4 bars. The bad itself was really neat and old

One of the 4 bars. The bad itself was really neat and old

Apothecary next to the dentist

Apothecary next to the dentist

Church

Church

Sheriff's office with jail

Sheriff’s office with jail

My favorite building was the old hotel

My favorite building was the old hotel

Really beautiful inside and the upside was being used as a private residence. the owner perhaps?

Really beautiful inside and the upside was being used as a private residence. the owner perhaps?

I also loved the blacksmith with the huge forge and bellows

I also loved the blacksmith with the huge forge and bellows

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One of several cabins

One of several cabins

There were good pictorial descriptions of the smelting process. Essentially they heated the mixture, poured it into a mold, and then broke off the top piece which held the precious materials.

There were good pictorial descriptions of the smelting process. Essentially they heated the mineral mixture, poured it into a mold, the precious metals floated to the top and they could then break off the section that held the precious materials.  the mine has been used for silver, iron(during WWII), and a little bit of gold.  It still has silver deposits, but the price of silver is to low to make active mining cost effective.

The bank which was totally made of stone

The bank which had walls of stone

Makes sense for money secruity but it made it pretty dark on the inside

Makes sense for money security but it made it pretty dark on the inside.  The safe is right behind the window so now I get why they robbed the banks from behind.

They had numerous antigues scattered throughout and one of my favorites was this old typewriter

They had numerous antiques scattered throughout and one of my favorites was this old typewriter.

 

They even had a small mine recreation you could walk through which I did after I made Cori go first :)

They even had a small mine re-creation you could walk through which I did after I made Cori go first 🙂

After seeing half of the town we walked over to the “70’s” area.  This property has been owned by numerous people and the last was an eccentric guy who was convinced he could make the mine work.  Apparently he did most of the mining himself and eked out a living.  He must have gotten lonely though, because occasionally he would go into a town, present himself as a rich mine owner, and talk someone into marrying him.  He did this 6 times because when they got a look at the place it didn’t last long.

The trailer the last owner lived in

The trailer the last owner lived in

Bedroom

Honeymoon suite lol

It was actually pretty nice and roomy

It was actually pretty nice and roomy

Even had a bathtub...ok so seriously if they could have a bathtub in the 70's why can't we have one now??

Even had a bathtub…ok so seriously if they could have a bathtub in the 70’s why can’t we have one now??

The funniest part was when I pulled the sheet aside to look in the bathroom I screamed very,very loud, because this is what i saw….

Hey you glance at this quick. It looked like a real guy. Scared the crap out of me...pun intended.

Hey you glance at this quick. It looked like a real guy. Scared the crap out of me…pun intended.

After seeing the town we drove over to the mine itself, which holds the 7 original buildings.  Since this was from a higher vantage point, the views were very nice and we could bring Hobie out to see.

Combination post office and pay office

Combination post office and pay office

Several orginal holes which go about 150 feet straight down

Several orginal holes which go about 150 feet straight down

No timber of any kind to hold up the sides

No timber of any kind to hold up the sides

This mine shaft went much deeper and had a ladder and metal cage around it

This mine shaft went much deeper and had a ladder and metal cage around it

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The bunk house

The bunk house

My favorite antique was this bathtub which was carryed from mining camp to mining camp by a madam and her girls. Say what you want but there were limited job opportunities for women in the west and for the times she was an entrepreneur using what she had to work with

My favorite story was about this bathtub which was carried from mining camp to mining camp by a Madam and her girls. Say what you want but there were limited job opportunities for women in the west and for those times she was an entrepreneur.  Plus she lived to the age of 93 unlike so many pioneer women who died young due to childbirth in harsh conditions.

One of the nicest things the couple who bought the property and built the attraction did was restore the graveyard. They honored the remains and reburied them in a safer way.

One of the nicest things the couple who bought the property and built the attraction did was restore the graveyard. They honored the remains and reburied them in a safer way.

Not many miners were buried here because those bodies were trapped in the mine shafts. Mainly it was due to jealous brawls and illness

Not many miners were buried here because those bodies were trapped in the mine shafts. Mainly these deaths were due to fights and illness.

 

After we finished with the mining town we still had some daylight hours left, so where do you take Greg on the spur of the moment?  Why prison of course.  The Yuma Territorial Prison  was relatively close and only costs $6 to visit.  The site has had numerous purposes over the years and was in danger of being destroyed when a local nonprofit formed to save it.  Eventually it was turned into a state park and for $6 is definitely worth the visit.  Many western outlaws were incarcerated here and even some women women murderers.  It was alternatively known as a “hell hole” prison (because of the insane heat) and as a “country club” by the locals because the prison had electric and forced ventilation which few of the surrounding houses had.  I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.  The guys really enjoyed the prison and I did find it interesting, although it’s not something I would have picked on my own.  That’s one of the fun things about hanging out with people, you get to try new things. 

The watch tower at the prison

The watch tower at the prison, also used to watch for Japanese in WWII

View from the watchtower

View from the watchtower

first flowers I have seen in awhile

First flowers I have seen in awhile

A very beautiful original Gatlin Gun

A very beautiful original Gatlin Gun

One of the famous gunmen who was incarcerated here

One of the famous gunmen who was incarcerated here

The line of cells

The line of cells

six men to a very small room

six men to a very small room

Greg was kind enough to sit on one of the ion bunks for me and I found a use for his grumpy picture face. I swear he smiles all the time except when you try to take his picture.

Greg was kind enough to sit on one of the ion bunks for me and I found a use for his grumpy picture face. I swear he smiles all the time except when you try to take his picture.

Some of the 29 women who were incarcerated here. Most for killing their husbands or lovers

Some of the 29 women who were incarcerated here. Most for killing their husbands or lovers for cheating or domestic abuse.

The women's bunks were like the Hilton in comparison to the mens.

The women’s bunks were like the Hilton in comparison to the mens. One woman even gave birth and raised a child here until he was 2 and they were both released.

I gave it a pass, not so into small, dark places.

The Dark Cell was where people, including the occasional woman, were sent for punishment.  I gave it a pass, not so into small, dark places.

After a long day in the sun, we were all ready to head back and Lee and I watched the movie 3:10 to Yuma that night.  It was an excellent movie, and I really enjoy watching movies about the areas we are in.

The next day our friend Rick arrived with his faithful companion Maxine.  Rick is a really sweet guy with a nice blog that I enjoy  and we were very glad to see him but bummed because the weather was supposed to be so bad.  Cori and Greg made Fajitas for all of us and we ate them in the rig, but we called it an early night so we could batten down the hatches.  Turns out the winds were around 50mph (the outer limit for our Flagpole buddy) and since Lee only partially lowered it, the very top snapped off.   Lee thinks he can fix it though and it could have been quite a bit worse.  Many of our neighbors have slide toppers and ended up putting in their slides for the night. I think Cori and Greg’s rig sort of wind blocked us because it really wasn’t that bad for us.

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8 thoughts on “First Time in an Old Mining Town

  1. I love the way you let us know what you are seeing and doing. The price of things. And great pictures. You are doing something I always dreamed of. I always thought I would get to Quartzsite. So far, not possible. Lee, i’m seeing many arial shots, whats up with that? You guys make my day . when I see your blog. I follow Howard&Linda and there activity. God be with you both

  2. Castle Dome looks pretty cool and we really liked the history of the Territorial Prison. It is interesting to walk through and think of the men (and a few women) who were imprisoned there. It must have been horrible in the summer!

    It looks way to empty to our east. Daisy keeps looking over there like she is looking for a long lost friend……..

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