Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Olde Mine


It might be Yuma’s best kept secret, and it is certainly one of the most attractive destinations for a one-day trip in the Yuma area. I am talking about the CASTLE DOME MINE. Since I had posted it on a long list of Yuma attractions a few nights ago I had it on my bucket list.

And we did have another errand in Yuma anyway as our wheel covers for the trailer had arrived.

In order to get to the Castle Dome Mine one has to follow Hwy 95 north (direction Quartzsite) At mile marker 55 we saw a sign for the Ghosttown Museum.
1-DSC_0731The road is also leading into the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.
First part of that road is paved but then…..oh my… it’s getting rough, In fact it is so rough that I wished our van would instantly convert into a JEEP WRANGLER.

We toughed it out the entire 10 miles. After negotiating a long left bend we saw house roofs sticking up from the desert floor. Some sun-tanned dark brown fronts were showing between the desert shrubs. Dome Mountain was building the appropriate backdrop. The whole thing looked “ghosttownish’ and I was getting excited.
The museum is privately owned and financed and they charge $10.00/person. Every cent of that is well spent money and that is even though a few buildings look like they are replica or at least have been extensively repaired. The collection of real-life artifacts from the history of this rather large mining district seems mind-boggling. I can’t think of a thing they might have forgotten.

I wandered around while Bea was taking Molly outside of the gate at the van. Dogs are not allowed into the museum, though we know it wouldn’t have been any problem with Molly, but they had made unpleasant experience with dogs inside and decided to stop access for dogs.
1-DSC_0732 1-DSC_0741
Dome Mountain            We saw this blimp down on the ground
Besides of the main compound of buildings they offer a rather extensive round walk on the other side of the road where more buildings and lots of mine shafts are located.
1-DSC_0749 1-DSC_0820
I also met “Adam” in his cabin and the friendly school teacher
1-DSC_0755 1-DSC_0816
1-DSC_0764-001 1-DSC_0765
1-DSC_0786 1-DSC_0770
A large shop for Blacksmith G. Horner  

Tucked away in the sun-splashed outback of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, northeast of Yuma, Castle Dome isn't hard to reach but is just isolated enough to stay off the radar of most tourists. Otherwise, this remarkable place would be teeming with visitors. Nestled at the foot of craggy mountains patrolled by desert bighorn, Castle Dome offers an unforgettable blend of scenery and history.

1-DSC_0759 1-DSC_0771


 The Well Digger   Church and… ….the guy in the Sheriff's office
1-DSC_0774 This guy was forgotten in the jail when everybody left…

  Hand saws by the dozens

Since buying the property in 1993, Allen and Stephanie Armstrong have created a sprawling museum. They started with a handful of original buildings still standing. More structures were hauled in from outlying mines, while others were constructed on-site using salvaged materials. Today, visitors can prowl through 50 buildings, including a hotel, doctor's office, church (with functional bell tower), blacksmith shop, assay office, sheriff's office, jail and several saloons. And you'll be hard pressed to determine which buildings are original and which are re-creations.

The Hotel

1-DSC_0772 1-DSC_0779
Hotel and Sheriff’s Office  
1-DSC_0778 1-DSC_0776
1-DSC_0782 1-DSC_0781
Bar Girl entertaining at the game table  

What makes the now-bustling ghost town so intriguing is that each building is packed to the rafters with period furniture, equipment, accessories and artifacts. Each self-contained mini museum fills in a piece of the larger picture of what life must have been like in this hardscrabble frontier.

1-DSC_0787 1-DSC_0791
  Bartender+Customer at the Flora Temple Bar

Castle Dome, 40 miles northeast of Yuma, contains the longest-working mine in Arizona. It operated from 1862 to 1979. During its heyday, 3,000 residents lived here despite blistering summer temperatures. Jacob Snively, who had served with Sam Houston, is credited as the first American to discover the rich silver and lead deposits. Yet he followed a trail blazed by Spanish conquistadors who mined here in the 1600s.

Because of the multitude of pictures we took we will split this posting into two.

So come back tomorrow and there will be more about the mine.


Thanks for sharing the rocky road!







  1. We went out there last year and had a great time wandering through all the buildings. Definitely well worth the drive, ruts and all.

  2. We visited last year and was surprised we hadn't known about it before. We were also surprised about how much there was to see.

  3. Thanks for the tour maybe next time we get to Arizona will check it our.


We like to hear from you. You can add your comment here: