Isn’t it funny. You go in search of something amazing, only to find the most amazing something of all is usually in your own backyard.
Well, in the case of Vulture not exactly in my backyard, but pretty darned close!
Wickenburg, Arizona is about an hour and a half from Prescott. Last week’s adventure to Stanton brought me really close to Wickenburg, but not all the way. Guess I was looking for something closer to home on the last trip. This trip I thought it was time to visit one of the best ghost towns left in Arizona, and that meant Vulture. Just a hop, skip, and jump from Wickenburg!
According to Arizona Highways’ “Arizona Ghost Towns and Mining Camps” book Vulture is one of the places you need to visit. The book was dead on with this pick!
3 miles West of Wickenburg, 11 miles South along Vulture Mine Road. Not a hard place to find!
The ride out was fantastic. Leaving Prescott we found ourselves in freezing temperatures with the heat on. After dropping down off the ridge from Yarnell into Congress the jackets were shed, the heat turned off, and the windows popped open often. Nice!
Vulture Mine Rd. was pretty interesting. Heavy Saguaro cactus along the road. BLM camping areas dotted the road as well. RVs off in the distance just parked in the desert. Reminded be of Anza-Borrego. It felt cozy to me! Too bad the Airstream wasn’t along….I think I would have parked there for a few days and enjoyed the quiet amongst the cactus!
On the approach to Vulture I couldn’t help thinking I’d gone too far. The Titan passed Vulture peak, and I thought for sure the old settlement would be parked somewhere under the peak. Not so. Just as I was ready to pull over and pop GPS coordinates in I spied a sign with a fake vulture on it. Destination reached!
In the distance off of the two lane road you could see a few older buildings standing. They looked pretty shaky, and I thought they must be part of the ghost town. Not so. Several had solar panels nearby. They were in disrepair, but somebody was still using them. So, the initial buildings that I found “ghost town worthy” do fit in with the former mining town, but they’re still the occupied type.
The Titan was parked at “Vulture’s Roost” and we went in. A pleasant older gentleman greeted us and gave the quick rundown on the site. He’d just finished talking with another couple who was visiting for the day, so we’d heard a little after entering the rundown building!
Even the “functional” buildings on site fit right in with the ghost town atmosphere! The place went beyond authentic. It really is an amazing site!
The entrance fee for the day was $10 per person. A little steep, but then again the site is being well preserved and protected. For me that’s a reasonable price to pay for what I got to see and shoot today! Most of these places have been ransacked and picked clean. Vulture is one of the few with so much left intact from it’s mining days!
After the low down we entered the remains of Vulture. Decaying buildings, mining tools strewn about, bent metal everywhere, broken glass everywhere I crouched to take a photo! It was a photographer’s obstacle course to be sure. It is also a photographer’s delight. Well, at least those of us who find old and abandoned things extremely interesting, which I do!
As we made our initial entrance Sadira went one way and I went another. Buildings on each side of us held interesting scenes. We both had our first photos in mind, and we wandered. A half collapsed building called Sadira in. I spent my time outside first. The collapsed wall contained an old window frame, and I’m a fan of window frames. This frame had only one view left in it. The dirt.
While I shot the extreme decay from the outside Sadira was busy exploring what was left of the building from the inside. An old kitchen, sleeping quarters, and storage areas. That half of the building did better than it’s outer partner for sure. And the windows looked out at more than just the dirt.
When I finally made my way inside I couldn’t resist a shot from the kitchen door out into the destruction I’d already photographed from the outside. Maybe something of a photo set at some point, but I’m far from done with today’s shots!
Everything posted in this entry is NOT complete. Not by a long shot. I’ve got a thematic idea for today’s series, and some additional work and processing will have to occur with these. Yes, I’m becoming very picky. That’s a good thing. I’m really hoping that my ghost town series takes a step beyond your standard fare when it comes to these interesting and eerie places. Only time will tell……
As we made our way in and out of buildings other tourists also filed through the ruined community. Voices could be heard from inside one collapsing building or other. It was nice to not be completely alone at the location. Reading the history of Vulture, Stanton, and the rest of the old mining camps you can’t help but feel a little unnerved.
It’s funny how each of these places’ history reads the same. Discovery, treachery, deception, theft, murder, hangings, and more…… John Wayne and Clint Eastwood might shudder if they read how the places were. Then again, maybe not!
So we weren’t alone. The ghost town was alive with tourists, with the clicks of cameras, and with the puzzled wonderment we all shared about the former mining town. Even with all the activity though, it was still most definitely a ghost town. And that meant a heavy feeling in and out of each building.
The musty smell is still with me tonight! Age and decay. Maybe that even comes through in the photos posted here. I’m not sure. But I am sure that the musty smell is still with me as I write.
As the morning progressed it became much warmer. Beyond the low 70’s easily, and lot’s of walking around the town. Water bottles were left in the truck, and later we both regretted that decision. This is after all Arizona. I guess the cool temperatures of Prescott made us forget…..
Our walk took us past many well preserved buildings. Also past one of the old mining pits. There was of course the hanging tree as well. 18 men lost their lives to that tree. They probably shouldn’t have stolen gold, as it didn’t work out well for them!
Around every turn a visitor can find old mining equipment, old cans, broken glass, and unique items. Just strewn around. Almost as though the residents got out of there in a hurry one day, all at once. Seriously, that type of debris takes work!
In the end the day was amazing. Vulture is a fantastic find for ghost town enthusiasts! The buildings, the equipment, the mine, the history all pull together nicely. The temperatures didn’t hurt either! Hey, nice to warm up from the chill that still hangs in here in Prescott for the morning.
We are a mile high, this is winter, and I shouldn’t be surprised about the temperatures. But it was nice to walk around in short sleeves and feel toasty!
There are of course many more photos from Vulture that I shot today. 10 photos were loaded up to my blog tonight, but I’m sorry to say I’ve run out of writing steam. I’m exhausted. Just can’t type any more! So I’d suggest you keep a watch out for other photos in the near future. Or stop by the gallery sometime and see what I decided to print from today’s excursion….. 😉