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Vulture City

The history of Vulture City, the most significant ghost town in Arizona, reads like a dime store western novel, full of Apache raids and stagecoach robberies. Attempting to find any concrete truth buried in a never-ending stream of conflicting and inaccurate accounts feels a little like panning for flecks of gold in a nearly barren claim. The surviving structures there were not built to last as long as they have, and, much like the city’s past, they are disappearing beneath desert’s shifting sands. The Vulture Mine, which necessitated the surrounding town, is the most profitable mine in the state’s history, having produced an estimated 340,000 ounces of gold and 240,000 ounces of silver. During its operations from 1863 t 1942 it has been said the mine generated anywhere from $30 million to $200 million (like many things related to it, there are nearly as many differing accounts as there are sources) and is directly responsible for the foundation of the nearby cities of Wickenburg and Phoenix – yet prosperity itself created violence, and Henry Wickenburg, the man who discovered the mine, ultimately wound up destitute and ended his own life.

If you'd like to learn more about the story of Vulture City, it is a featured chapter in the new Abandoned America book Abandoned America: Dismantling the Dream, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other online booksellers across the globe. For more information on where to get it or how to purchase a signed copy follow this link. Photographs and unattributed text by Matthew Christopher. For more images click the thumbnails below.