Sunday, December 13, 2015

Castle Dome Museum, 12/08/2015

At the Sanguinetti House Museum we learned more about the mining ghost towns in the Yuma area. One of the largest was Castle Dome City, a silver and lead mining community from 1864-1979. High grade ore from the area yielded 45 ounces of silver per ton. Today, it is a museum of 35 restored buildings and thousands of authentic relics of the era. The last mine closed in 1979 when the process to extract silver from the ore cost more than the value of silver. 

Proceed first to the Museum entrance where there is a small gift shop and informational display. The admission cost is $10/adults and $5/kids 6 and older. 

We entered the first of two sections of the museum here for our self-guided tour. Some of the buildings are in their original location and others have been moved to this area. 

We meandered through the various buildings here. Interesting information about the lives and times of those who lived here can be found throughout. Here are a few of the buildings we saw in this first part of the tour.

George Adams was a turn-of-the-century (1900) miner who first built and owned this cabin. It was subsequently inhabited by others and is typical of the cabins built by miners in the area 

Castle Dome School House and bell.


This is a Digger's Room where miners went morning and night to change from their regular clothing to their work clothes. The mining clothes were not washed and worn until they wore out. Yuck! Check out the Levis from the 1890s!

This building is dedicated to the military and all who served. Veterans are encouraged to sign their names/dates of service in the interior of the building. Artifacts from WWII troops that trained in the desert near here can also be seen.  

The Miner's Diner is located in this building and you can purchase water or packaged snacks here. I would suggest bringing your own picnic lunch and drinks as this is a remote setting. The machinery to the left is well digger.

There were at last 5 bars in Castle Dome where violence sometimes broke out among the rough and tumble miners. This is the Silver Bar Saloon.

The remains of this mine is located near the "town." You can see that John would not have fit into this one very easily!

Castle Dome Bank

Blacksmith Shop

"Arisona Sam's" Saws and cabin

Dress Shop 

Behind the church is the landmark, Castle Dome Peak. 

Sheriff's Office with a cell built of stone at the rear.

Castle Dome was a stagecoach stop and some would stay at the hotel. Gambling rooms could be round in the rear.

Mercantile Shop

Another bar with a shady character looking for some whiskey!

Cook House. Check out the well-worn butcher's block. 

From here we drove back a parking lot to access the second section of the museum where most of the mines were located. 

The Castle Dome Mine first opened in 1874 and was 150 vertical feet. Today it is fenced off and there is not much to see other than a hole in the ground!

The Flora Temple Mine opened in 1871 and was also 150 vertical feet deep. The silver vein found here was 1/2 mile long producing 40 ounces of silver per ton of ore. 

Johnny's Bunk House. Miners who were single or who just didn't have the resources to build a cabin, often stayed in bunk houses. 

This is the first cabin site built at Castle Dome (1864) for protection from an Indian attack. By the end of the same year, many more cabins were built in the mining zone.

Below is another bar and the Castle Mine Post Office. The doctor's office was located above the bar.

Cemetery...the last person buried here was in 1930. His vehicle exploded while he was putting fuel in the tank. The coroner decided it was best just to bury him at Castle Dome. Not surprisingly, most died violent deaths. There is also a memorial grave for 4 miners killed while digging for silver. In the distance is the DeLuce Mill built in 1898. William DeLuce ran off with his mistress to Alaska, but his wife and son were very successful mining his claims in Castle Dome after his departure.

Benches have been placed throughout the mining district for visitors to enjoy a rest in the lovely desert terrain. In the photo below you can see a fenced-off mine in the distance.

There were approximately 300 mines in Castle Dome that were 150-250 vertical feet deep. One of the more successful ones was the Glory Hole that yielded 200,000 ounces from 5,000 tons of ore that was shipped to San Francisco for processing. Today they are fenced in and/or covered with grates. 

The remains of the Buck Eye Load (1860s) and the Lyman Wall Mine (1940s) can be seen below.

The city was name for the Castle Dome Peak. This landmark can be seen for miles. 

Castle Dome is located about 30 miles north of Yuma off of Highway 95 near mile marker 55. Keep an eye out for signs to Kofa National Wildlife Refuge and Castle Dome  and turn (right if traveling northbound on 95) onto Castle Dome Road. Castle Dome City is about 10 miles northeast of this point. The first 3 miles of the road are paved, the remainder is gravel/dirt and rough in some parts. We took our time in our MINI and had no problems reaching the museum. 

If you enjoy learning about the history of the mining industry in the old west, you'll love this place. It would be helpful if a brochure were provided of the entire museum upon entry, but there are signs everywhere that providing interesting insight into the lives of those who resided and worked here. We spent several leisurely hours here.

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