The Goldfield Ghost Town near Superstition Mountains in Arizona gives you a look and feel on what an old gold mining town was like in the 1890’s. From a mine tour to wathcing a gunfight in the middle of town, this is one of the places that shows a bit of the history that made up Arizona in the Wild West days.
“Commodities such as gold and silver have a world market that transcends national borders, politics, religions, and race. A person may not like someone else’s religion, but he’ll accept his gold” – Robert Kiyosaki-
So what exactly is a ghost town? Well, any town that at one point was inhabited and at some time becomes abandoned, then it becomes what is known as a ghost town. Sorry for those that thought ghost would be roaming around.
Ghost towns did popped up sporadically in the US in the areas were the Wild West was known to be rampant. Old mining towns that were abandoned were eventually added to the list ghost towns. This is what has happen to the Goldfield Ghost Town, that is until it was restored many years later.
Located near the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, this old mining town is one you will want to see. The small town is free to visit and to take a walk through. If you want to try a few of the activities or a tour, then be prepared to pay a small fee. The area is also rich in trails to hike, lakes to paddle board on, and scenic roads to enjoy.
History of Arizona Mines
Imagine living in the 1850’s, where if you wanted to make it, you had to work hard for it. This was the life for many following the dream of striking it rich with gold. This sent people looking for gold and other minerals into the vast wilderness, with some never returning. In fact, the state of Arizona is known for the amount of Copper mines that are present within its borders. Impressively, one of the largest copper mines in the world is the Morenci Mine, located in this state.
What Arizona also has is precious gold. Arizona wasn’t declared a state of the U.S until 1912. During this year alone, there were 445 active copper, gold, and amethyst mines. Surprisedly, in 2019 alone, there were still 380 mines in the state that were considered to be active.
If prospecting gold is something you want to try then check out the Lynx Creek Gold Pan Day use area near Yavapai Country. Please do not try to go looking to explore any of these abandoned mines. Many are very unstable and dangerous. The amount of abandoned mines is unknown and wondering around can easily lead you into a situation you don’t want to be in. Want to know more then check of this website for more info on Arizona’s mines.
The Goldfield Ghost Town Mines
The Goldfield Ghost Town at one point had around 17 different mines present during the towns short success. Of those 17 mines, only 3 were considered to produce sufficient precious metals. These mines were named the Mammoth, the Bull Dog, and the Black Queen. The first claim was for “Lucky Boy” Iron Horse mine, which eventually lead to the Black Queen claim that ended up producing the most in terms of different minerals for the first 6 months of the year.
By chance, during a storm in April of 1893, the Goldfield wash experienced an extreme flash flood. The result of it ended with a section opening up which became known as the Mammoth claim, the most profitable. Over the years, the claims have been worked on and off since minerals are still being taken out of the ground.
In fact, in 1949, close to the Morman shaft area, a dislodged line unearthed an old mine shaft that is thought to be from the era when the Spanish inhibited the land in the mid 1500’s. The Apache Indians at the time were thought to decimate many of the Spanish settlers and army, which were looking for gold. This ended with the Spanish eventually retreating from the area for their safety.
Superstition Mountains Lost Dutchman Mine
You probably have heard of the story of the Lost Dutchman Mine and it’s reported 200 million dollars worth of treasure that is somewhere in the Superstition Mountains. Inspiring many to hunt for it, only for most to die or end up empty handed. This supposed gold mine was known of by the Apache Indians in the area. For many years they were responsible in keeping the Spanish as well as others from locating it.
The Peralta family was fortunate to have discovered the mines and profit from it for years, according to stories. That is until Mexico sold the land to the United States, which was expanding fast at the time. Wanting to get in one last run to the mines, the Peralta’s in 1848 with 400 men tried make it to the claim to access gold ore once again. Unfortunately for them, they were attacked by the Apache.
Behind the “Lost Dutchman Museum” on route 88, you will see trail signs reading “Massacre Grounds”. Only one or two family members survived is what was to be believed. Next, comes the man who is said to be the last to see the lost mine.
The Man Who Inspired The Name
According to accounts told throughout the years, a few people have stumbled onto this rich claim. Some have even prospered from the gold ore that came from the mine. The last person that is thought to know the location of the claim was a man named Jacob Waltz, who was a German immigrant.
Luck was with him with apparently, since he ended up befriending one of the surviving Peralta heirs. They proceeded to informed him of the location for some reason. Next, to the story came Jacob Waltz, the man who would be the inspiration for the Lost Dutchman Mine name. He was able to convince another man, named Jacob Weiser, to partner with him and help explore the area looking for this lost mine.
Supposedly, they found it according to people who witnessed both paying for supplies with high grade gold ore. Within a few years, Weiser disappeared without a trace. Many thought Waltz had something to do with it, but it was never proved.
Waltz ultimately suffered from medical conditions that lead to his death. But this was not before he sent friends to retrieve $15,000 worth of gold from his homestead. Did he tell others where the mine was before his death?
He tried, but failed in telling anyone the exact location and because of it, over time it became known as the “Lost Dutchman Mine”. It appears that the people had trouble at the time with confusing the Germans with the Dutch very frequently, which cause them to name it after a Dutch man instead of the German man he was.
Many have gone missing or ended up dead in this region over the years. This has lead to people believing in the supposed curse that the Superstition Mountains hold. Now a part of the federal government, it has become a state park and protected. So the question remains, did the Lost Dutchman Mine really exist and if so is it just laying waiting to be rediscovered? What we at least do know is many have died looking for it over the years, while others claimed to have found it.
How Goldfield Ghost Town Was Created
Overlooking the Superstition Mountains before 1892, men would set up tents to live in while they were prospecting for gold in the area. This lead to the area acquiring more amenities to entice others to settle in the area. Slowly, the town of Goldfield was developed with a hotel, church, post office, school, and general store for over 500 residents. At one point, it is estimated there were around 28 buildings erected at this site.
By 1897, most of the profitable gold ore was taken out of the ground by this point. The result of this was people needing to leave for better opportunities and thus creating a deserted ghost town by 1898. Over 25 years ago, Bob Schoose began with a few friends the task of trying to rebuild the Goldfield Ghost Town.
Time and weather has helped to destroyed some of the original buildings structures, and the rest was taken down during World War II by the Shumway Company who bought the claim and later sold the machinery for scrap. With time, many buildings were able to be restored or rebuilt. All that effort has lead to a revived ghost town that you can visit to learn about the history of the area and experience a little of what it was like for this town over 100 years ago.
What To Expect
Goldfield Ghost Town lets you take a look into the history of Arizona’s gold mines and how these individuals survived in their new wilderness home. It was rebuilt since most was destroyed by people, weather, fires and time. Bought by Bob Schoose over 30 years ago and was worked on with bringing it back to life for others to enjoy.
Make sure to take the time to explore the small town and all it has. Below is a list of some of the attractions, buildings, and activities the whole family can do. The Arizona weather can be extreme some times, so make sure to check out the 10 mistakes people make when visiting Arizona.
For More Detail Info
The Superstition Narrow Gauge Train Ride:
Go ahead and make sure to take this 20 minute train ride, which will take you around the Goldfield Ghost Town area. During the ride, you will get to learn about how the mine came to be, the history of the old west days, and a little about the Lost Dutchman Mine.
- Operating Hours: Friday to Tuesday from 10 AM to 5 PM
- Cost: Adults $10, Seniors $9, Children ages 5-12 $7, and kids under are free.
- For more info, call their official number (480) 983-0333
Gunfighters at Goldfield:
What better way to experience a part of the Wild West than to see a gunfight. Lucky for you, it isn’t real. In fact the last official gun fight was recored in February 10th, of 1918 in Tuscon with a man named Powell surviving a shootout that was after him to capture him for crimes.
- Operating Months: November – April
- Hours Operating: On weekends during regular hours, usually a few times a day.
Goldfield Ghost Mine Tour:
This was my favorite of all the attractions because they take you on a short tour in an old portion of a mine. Only 25 mins long, this tour will give you insight on equipment that as used, the conditions they had to mine in, as well as what was mined.
- Open: 7 days a week
- Admission Prices: Adults $10, Seniors $9, Children ages 5-12 is $7, and kids under 5 are free.
- Tour Times: It all depends on how many people are around. They usually try to wait for a few people to show up, but you will not have to wait too long.
Panning For Gold:
Next to the mine tour, you will find the Prospector’s Palace, which is a gold panning and gem sluicing area. For a fee, you can buy a bag of pay dirt and use their equipment to sort it. A great activity for the kids to do and learn a bit about how the old west was built on dreams of prospecting and making it rich.
The Historical Museum:
Who doesn’t love history? Except when your teacher is monotone in talking then it can make it difficult to listen. Learning about the past is so much more interesting and intriguing when you can actually see it or be a part of it. Thats why you definitely need to stop by the museum to learn about the Native Americans, miners, stories, and everyday life over 100 years ago.
- Operating Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM
- Cost: Adults $6, Seniors $4, and $3 for kids 5-12.
- Official Website: SuperstitionZipline.com
- Hours/Days Open: Monday thru Thursday 10 AM – 6 PM, and Friday thru Sunday 10 AM – 7 PM.
Goldfield Ghost Town’s Walking Tour:
If you have the time and want a different experience than check out the only, nighttime Goldfield Ghost Town tour with Matt Mason. His official website has more info on reservations and more. The month of October is the most busy so book early.
O.K Corral Stables:
Visiting the area and want to explore the area like they did over 100 years ago, then try a horse ride. One of the local guides will take you through the Goldfield Ghost Town and Superstition Mountains area to discover what makes this land so mysterious.
- Horse ride can be either take on average 30 mins, a few hours, a half a day, or more.
- For more info check the official website or call (480) 982-4040 for reservations.
How To Get To Goldfield Ghost Town
At the time of writing this article, only Route 88 is open to take you to the Goldfield Ghost Town. Getting to this destination will depend on which way you are coming from. If Phoenix is you home pint, then be prepared to drive for a good 45 minutes to get to the ghost town. As for if you are coming from the other direction, then it all depends on your starting point.
The goal is to get to Route AZ-88 East, which will take you to North Mammoth Mine Road. To get to Route AZ-88, if you are coming from the city of Phoenix, then you should either take the US-60 or AZ-202 Loop east. Driving westward towards Phoenix, then take the US-60 West. Take exit 196 for AZ-88 East.
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The information on this website has come from research and by experiencing it ourselves. Opening hours, closures, prices, etc. are always subject to change. We try to keep up to date on any new information, or tips to help make your adventure more enjoyable.
Always make sure to check all websites and other services before you go to see any new restrictions they haven place during Covid-19.