2017 Feb 7 – Day 36 – Yuma, AZ

I didn’t have the opportunity to write my blog yesterday.  We drove out to the Castle Dome Museum and Mines and then geocached our way back down the gravel road to the highway before driving back into Yuma.  By the time we got to the hotel after dinner I just had time to go through my photos before bed, as we couldn’t be lazy and sleep in this morning.

The Castle Dome Museum is an old mining ghost town.  In the late 1800’s it was a booming silver galena and lead mining area with over 300 working mines; some as deep as 450′ vertical shafts into the rocky desert.  There were mines being worked up to 1979 when the price of silver went so low it was not viable any longer.  We wandered in and out of the buildings for most of the day.

We have been to ‘Ghost Towns’ before and there wasn’t very much different about this one, but I always enjoy the stories you hear in old deserted towns.

Just like the blog on the Territorial Prison and Quartermaster’s Depot this one will be mostly photographs.  I take pictures of all kinds of things that interest me in these old places and also photograph a lot of the placards that tell the stories.  So here goes….

We drove east out of Yuma through miles and miles of irrigated farm land before turning north on Highway 95.img_7546 img_7551 img_7552 img_7558We then drove over 1/2 an hour before turning off onto a gravel road for another 12 miles.  The area is also home to the Kofa Wildlife Refuge.  Apparently there are Big Horn Sheep and Tortoises as well as rattlesnakes and scorpions living in the desert. img_7572 img_7579Hanging in the sky that we could see from miles away was a large white blimp.  We asked the folks at the museum what it was and the fellow said no one knows for sure (The US Army Yuma Proving Grounds covers a vast area here), but the best guess was that it was used for border surveillance to watch for airplanes trying to enter the US from Mexico (mostly drug runners). img_7575 img_7581 img_7584You can just make out the tether line in this photo.

Castle Dome City got it’s name from the unusual feature in the Dome Mountains.img_7582 img_7587 img_7589 img_7590 img_7591The museum had two sections: first was all the town buildings then you drove back down the road to a second parking area to do the walking tour past some of the old mine shafts and a few more buildings.img_7595 img_7596 img_7598 img_7603 img_7607All the buildings had placards saying what it was, or whose it was, and often there was another that gave more information about the building and its owner.

img_7599 img_7600 img_7605img_7604 img_7609 img_7610 img_7611 img_7612 img_7622img_7619 img_7615 img_7620 I liked the little stained glass window in the school house.img_7621When you build a town in a desert you use whatever wood you can find.  Many of the walls were made from old fruit boxes or blasting powder boxes.

All the rooms in this building were covered with signatures of military; retired and active.  It was a nice tribute I thought.  img_7627 img_7625 img_7626 img_7628 img_7631 img_7632img_7624 img_7633 img_7634The barber shop had this unique figurine in a glass case in the corner.img_7635 img_7636This building was representative of a 1950′ garage.  The old gas pump had been beautifully restored.img_7640 img_7637 img_7638 img_7639This was the crushing mill where the rock was broken up to get at the ore.  The old steam boiler had a huge hole it from when it exploded.

img_7651img_7645 img_7647 img_7649 img_7650 img_7652img_7653 img_7657 img_7655The owner of this bar incorporated the stripped-down remains of a couple of Saguaro Cactus.


Many of the artifacts were recovered from the original buildings or nearby areas.  Much of it was covered with a layer of dust but, since it is a desert with open doors you can’t do much about it.

The Mercantile was quite well stocked with supplies and necessities for the miners.img_7662 img_7658 img_7659 img_7660 img_7661The jail at the back of the little Sheriff’s Office had a stone cell for miscreants to languish in.  And a coffin waiting for those who resisted arrest.

img_7664 img_7678 img_7685 img_7679 img_7680 img_7682The hotel was beside the Sheriff’s Office and the upstairs was roped of as a “Private Residence;” this is probably where the owners live.img_7665 img_7667 img_7666 img_7669img_7668 img_7670 img_7671 img_7672 img_7673 img_7676img_7675 And the church was on the other side of the Sheriff’s Office.  It had an old pump organ with the pieces in frames on the walls on either side of the pulpit.img_7688 img_7689 img_7690 img_7691 img_7686 img_7692 img_7693The Dress Shop had a roped off section at the back with what looked like authentic period costumes.  Some of the ones in the open section looked like they had been gathered from thrift stores or the like.  I liked the way they had a display of gaudy saloon girl outfits and off in the corner were the plain gingham ones for the proper ladies.  img_7694 img_7695 img_7696 img_7697 img_7698 img_7699The Blacksmith shop had a huge bellows and a large press.  It said on the placard that the largest amount of the smithies work would be sharpening the drill bits.img_7700 img_7702 img_7703 img_7705 img_7707 img_7708

img_7709 img_7712 img_7710The Bank was the only stone building in the town.  It wasn’t very big either.img_7714 img_7717 img_7718 img_7720 img_7719Just past the bank was this gigantic digger.  I can only imagine the poor mules pulling sections of this thing into the desert.img_7721img_7725And down hill behind the digger was a mine – probably not a real one – but the interesting thing in the tunnel was the display of florescent glass objects.  The ore in the Castle Mines contained a lot of florescences and two other chemicals that glow under a black light.

img_7722 img_7724 The last businesses in the town were in the same building; the Silver Saloon and the newspaper office.img_7726 img_7727 img_7731 img_7732img_7733 img_7734 img_7728 img_7730This is a very creatively made wheelbarrow.img_7735 img_7736 img_7737We went back to the truck had a PB&J sandwich and drove over to the mine walking tour area.  There were a lot of very deep fenced off holes in the ground.  It took us about an hour to walk around.img_7738 img_7739img_7773The bunk house was quite a large building and had a separate bathing area at the back with a big galvanized double-shower, a wood sink and tubs at the back.

img_7742 img_7743 img_7744 img_7745 img_7746We learned the correct pronunciation for the Saguaro Cactus.  We also asked the lady at the museum if there was anyway to tell the age of a Saguaro.  She said, not really but they do know that a cactus will not sprout any ‘arms’ until it is 75 years old.  So this solid column is not over 75.  After that it is just a guess but obviously one with several large arms would be very old.

img_7747 img_7704 img_7740 img_7748                                                           I think this is a ‘barrel cactus.’

This is the location of the very first cabin at Castle Dome.img_7749 img_7750img_7752img_7757 img_7758 img_7759 Now this Saloon owner devised a very clever way to make windows without the expense or difficulty of getting panes of glass.

The view from the upper balcony was not bad.img_7753 img_7754 img_7763The cemetery didn’t have too many graves in it.  There were a few cards telling about the demise of some of the residents.img_7765 img_7766 img_7767 img_7768 img_7770 img_7771 img_7769This concluded our tour of the Castle Dome Museum and Mines.  It was a fun day.  img_7775There were two series of geocaches between the museum and the boundary of the Yuma Proving Grounds land (there is no stopping over that section of road) for a total of 24 geocaches.  We found them all and passed the tethered blimp on the way by.img_7776 img_7780We found one more cache right at the highway turn-off and then headed back to Yuma as the sun was setting.  We did a lot of walking so it was good to sit down to dinner and then go back to the hotel.img_7785 img_7786 img_7788 img_7790

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