Vulture West Footprints DVD – $79.95
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The Vulture West FootPrint maps over 60 square miles of well-known gold producing territory. Incredible 9″ resolution aerial imagery makes it easy to identify old mine shafts, old roads and previous diggings.
Centered around the famous Vulture Mine gold has been pulled from placers and lodes since gold was first discovered here in the 1860s. Excellent winter weather, easy access via Vulture Mine road and many good camping areas on BLM land make this a favorite for seasonal prospectors.
The Vulture Mountain Range is the place where the famous Vulture Mine was discovered by Henry Wickenburg in 1863. The Vulture Mine is said to be the most productive gold mine in Arizona. It is also one of the earliest gold mines in Arizona drawing the California Forty-Niners east to the new Territory. Active on and off until the war effort of 1942 shut down gold mines all over the United States it produced gold worth over $2,000,000.
There are many accounts of the troubled history of the Vulture Mine and I suggest that you do a little web research before visiting the area. Or better yet, visit the Vulture Mine itself. It is open to the public and definitely worth the visit. A self-guided tour allows you to explore the mine and the ghost town of the Vulture Townsite.
Gold Placers and Placering in Arizona
Bulletin #168, 1961
University of Arizona, Tucson
This bulletin supercedes AZBM #160, 1952 which supercedes AZBM #142, 1933
The Vulture placers are in northwestern Maricopa County, in the vicinity of the Vulture mine, about 14 miles by road southwest of Wickenburg. North of that area the extensively dissected Vulture mountains rise to elevations of 3,500 or more feet above sea level or nearly 2,000 feet above the desert plain on the south.
According to A.P. Irvine who spent many years in this district, these placers were first worked about 1867. At times during the five or ten years following, as many as 200 or more men were placering with dry-washers in arroyos of the vicinity. Blocks of ground only 50 ft square were allowed each miner, but many men recovered from $25 to $50 per day each. By about 1880, the richest, readily obtainable fold had veen harvested, but some dry-washing, principally by transient miners, has been done every year after rains. Evidences of the early activity are still to be seen in numerous old pits, piles of screenings overgrown with small brush, and decaying dry-washer machines. In the northern portion of the area, some of the thin hillside gravels were scraped up and dry-washed.
The principal rocks of the Vulture area consist of pre-Cambrian schist, dikes, and irregular masses of granite, probable Mesozoic monsonitic dikes, and Tertiary andesitic and rhyolitic lava flows. Within this schist are the large, rich gold-bearing quartz vein of the Vulture mine and many smaller veins. Practically all of the smaller veins carry visible free gold, and drainage channels leading down from them contain placer gold.
The Vulture placer ground covers about 3 square miles in the pediment of Red Top Basin, northwest of the Vulture mine, and continues down Vulture Wash for about 2 miles southeast of the Vulture Mine. The placer gravels , which are composed mainly of medium to fine, angular pebbles of schist and quartz, are generally less than 10 ft thick and rest upon schist bedrock. Considerable caliche cement, which occurs in all but the thinnest gravels, has limited dry-washing operations to the narrow arroyos that re typical of this field.
Although some gold is distributed throughout the gravels, it is more abundant near bedrock. Several samples, taken from random localities at the time of the writer’s visit, revealed abundant colors when panned. Even the old dry-washer tailings show fine colors upon panning, as those machines could recover only the coarser gold. The gold is mostly coarse and angular. During the early days, according to Mr. Irvine, many $10 to $20 nuggets were found, and some worth $100 were reported.
The origin of the placer gold, in Red Top Basin at least, appears to have been the small quartz veins of that vicinity. The gold of these veins, like that of the adjacent placers, appears to be coarser than that in the Vulture vein. It is possible , however, that the placer gold in the drainage below the Vulture mine may have been derived in part from the Vulture vein.