This should be on your Arizona-Bucketlist!
You might have heard of the Castle Dome Mining Museum before – we haven’t, before we were on our last road trip through Arizona. Now we are sure: This should be a definite stop if you’re in the region.
We were driving from Lake Havasu to Yuma when we were told to stop by the Castle Dome Mining Museum; people told us that this place should be on every bucketlist of those who love photography or Ghost Towns. As both of these descriptions applied to us we decided to obey and visit it. Even though we knew thanks to the GPS that we were on the right way, we didn’t believe so until we saw the first ragged buildings in the distance, because a huge part of the road to get there is a dirt road that leads through the Yuma Military Proving Ground, which is one of the largest military facilities of the world. The signs “No stopping at any time!” and “No Photography” add to the feeling of eerieness.
Once you arrive at the entrance gate of the Castle Mine Museum you might of course stop, you should stop. And take a billion of pictures. You’ll find yourself in the middle of a small village that consists of about 50 weather-beaten buildings, all fully stocked with a lot of artifacts that were not only found directly on site but also collected by the owners or were given to them as donations. Wandering between those buildings gives you a glimpse into everyday life in an old Arizona mining town.
The museum sits on the second patented mine in 1871 and is the longest worked mining district of the state. The last miner, Lyman Wall, left 1979, almost a hundred years after mining started in 1864. The town was once thriving and even bigger than Yuma. There was drama (like shootouts), there was everyday life (school, church, mercantile) and now there’s a lot for every visitor to discover. When we were there this September, we were lucky that even the weather added to the ghostly mood there. While some of the little huts (you can walk into all of them) were a bit kitschy, there were also some that made you believe in every single Stephen King novel you’ve ever read.
Sometimes I had goosebumps, because I was afraid that every minute the mill could start working again, a guy with a gun could come around the corner, horses could be heard in the distance. Both Pablo and me had a good time there, we took a lot of pictures and loved every minute. Speaking of time: Make sure to have at least like 90 minutes there, so check the operating times before you visit it. And bring lots of water and sunscreen. There was no AC in the 1800s and you’re outside all the time. We highly recommend a visit!
Castle Dome Mining Museum
Castle Dome Mine Road, Yuma, AZ
Admission is 10 USD for adults, 5 USD for kids over six years old; free admission for children under six years.
Opening time: April 15th to September you have to call for times (928.920-3062), October 1st through April 15th the museum is open 7 days a week.