On Sunday, February 14th I spent most of the day at Goldfield Ghost Town. Goldfield sits between the Superstition and Goldfield Mountains. Goldfield got its start in 1892 when very rich, high-grade gold ore was found in the area. A town was soon developed and on October 7, 1893, it received its first official post office.
The discovery of gold along with the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine brought new miners to the area and in no time, the town had three saloons, a boarding house, a general store, brewery, blacksmith shop, butcher shop, and a school. For five years the town boomed with a population of 1,500 people. The town started to die out as the gold dried up and prices dropped, the miners moved on, the post office was closed November 2, 1898, and Goldfield became a ghost town.
Some prospectors clung on to the area, hoping to find the Lost Dutchman Mine or a new gold vein. Others tried to reopen the existing mines, but all attempts were unsuccessful until a man named George Young, who was the secretary of Arizona and the acting governor came. Young brought in new mining methods and equipment to recover the ore and the town began to slowly come back again. A mill and a cyanide plant were built, a second post office was established on June 8, 1921, and the “new” town was called Youngberg. The new town only lasted about 5 years until the gold was gone. The post office was discontinued on October 30, 1926, and the town died once again.
It seemed that Goldfield was not destined to die permanently. In 1966, Robert F. “Bob” Schoose, a long time ghost town, mining, and treasure-hunting enthusiast made his first trip to the Superstition Mountains and fell in love with the area. He moved to Mesa, Arizona in 1970 and began to dream of owning his own ghost town. He had heard of the old site of Goldfield, but he found little left other than a few foundations and shacks. He and his wife located a five-acre site that was once the Goldfield Mill and decided to rebuild the old town. They purchased the old mill site in 1984 and reconstructed a mining tunnel, which included a snack bar and opened for business in 1988. Next came a photoshop, the Blue Nugget, a General Store, the Mammoth Saloon and the Goldfield Museum.
Today, Goldfield is filled with authentic looking buildings, which includes an underground mine tour, and the only narrow gauge railroad in operation in Arizona. There are several shops and buildings (a brothel, bakery, leather works, a jail, livery, etc).
The authentic looking street is filled with people in period costume, horses and wagons, and gunfighter presentations.
Superstitious Mountain Museum
Inside the museum, there are a number of things from volcanic eruptions, Indians, ranchers, miners, Lost Dutchman Mine theories and maps and a few pictures and things about “Apacheland Ranch” movie studio. Outside the museum are the 3 pieces from the Apacheland Ranch that were not destroyed in the fire in 2004…. The Elvis Memorial Chapel, The Audie Murphy Apacheland Barn, and The Gallows.
The Apacheland Movie Ranch opened in 1959 with a single row of three-sided roofless small buildings on a site off Kings Ranch Road which is known today as Gold Canyon. By the end of 1960, developers had constructed both sides of its main street into a full-blown movie set. Apacheland Movie Ranch did the shooting for more than 17 television series, 29 full-length feature films and hundreds of commercials during its history. Apacheland was destroyed by a fire on Valentines Day 2004.
The Elvis Chapel was used in the Elvis Presley movie ” “Charro”. The original steeple was removed and a special steeple was put on instead. A fake steeple was blown off in an explosion during the filming. When Elvis died in 1977 it was renamed the Elvis Memorial Chapel. The chapel contains Elvis Presley memorabilia as well as photographs, soundtracks and film takes of many of the productions that were created at the Apacheland Movie Ranch. Today the Chapel is used for weddings, memorials, and other events.
The Audie Murphy Apacheland Barn also survived the fire and was named because of a long gun battle that was staged in the barn for the movie “Arizona Raiders” that starred Audie Murphy. Inside the barn are items such as buggies and wagons that were used in the movies, pictures, and miscellaneous memorabilia.
Both the buildings and the gallows were removed from the original location board by board and relocated to the museum grounds.
20-Stamp Mill Ore Crusher
Another item on the Museum grounds is the 20-Stamp Mill Ore Crusher. It was originally located at Bland, NM. It was donated in 1989 by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Jones of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This type of mill machine crushes the material by pounding to extract the metallic ores. Five men spent twenty-eight days, all volunteers to disassemble and move the mill to the Superstition Mountain Museum. It was five stories terraced on the side of a canyon wall. Each day the men worked 10-12 hours and only took two days off during the entire project. This mill was state of the art technology for recovering gold in the 1800s. Rare, historical, surviving equipment such as this today can be counted on one hand, let alone in such great condition.