Vulture City, Arizona

Assay Office - Vulture City
Assay Office - Vulture City

Vulture City History

Vulture City is the settlement that grew up around the Vulture Mine, one of Arizona's earliest gold mines. Henry Wickenburg discovered gold here in 1863. In 1866 the Vulture mine began operations that continued at varying scale until it was closed in 1888.

The mine was active again from 1910 to 1917, during which time it yielded almost 2 million dollars in ore. The mine was reopened again in 1931 and remained active until 1945.

The date at which the mine also became a town is 1880, when the Vulture Pipeline was completed. The location lacked enough water to operate the mine at scale, much less support a settlement. The arrival of the pipeline and the water it provided from approximately fifteen miles away made a settlement possible, and the Vulture mine became the site of Vulture City.

Vulture City Arizona 1880
Vulture City, Arizona 1880

A post office was established in 1880 which appears to have operated intermittently, finally closing for good in 1897.

Many myths have been told about Vulture City, like that it was notorious for its numerous hangings. According to the tales, eighteen hangings occurred from the ironwood tree that still remains next to the ruins of Henry Wickenburg's cabin. However, many of these tall tales were fabricated to enhance the legend of Vulture City, likely to attract tourists in the twentieth century.

Hanging Tree at Vulture City Arizona
The Hanging Tree at Vulture City Arizona

The article Vulture Mine - History, Fact, and Fiction takes a closer look at both the myths, and the real history of the mine and the town that grew up around it.

Vulture City Arizona
Vulture City Arizona

Total gold production for the district through 1959 was about 366,000 ounces. About 250 ounces of this was from placers; most of the remainder was from the Vulture mine.

Unfortunately in recent decades the Vulture site has been severely neglected, resulting in the near loss of important historic buildings like the assay building pictured at the top of this page. A user reports that in the early 2000's the new owners bulldozed the historic stamp mill.

Vulture City Arizona
Vulture City Arizona

Recently, it has been reported that the owners of the Vulture mine have decided that tourism is the new gold and have invested heavily in stabilizing buildings and cleaning up the site. As of this writing, the old town is open for tours.