Whispering Ranch Mine - Bat Gating Project
Located on BLM Land outside of Wickenburg, Arizona.

This project was made possible with the generous support of the mining company Freeport McMoRan.

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Mining in this area began its boom days back in 1863 when Henry Wickenburg discovered his famous Vulture Gold Mine. The Vulture produced well over 200 million dollars until it was closed during World War II in 1942. Sometime during this active mining period the Whispering Ranch Shaft was driven deep into the ground. Since official records are lost or forgotten, we really don't even know the original name of the shaft or when it was dug. Clues to the date are evident in a large Trash Dump near the shaft. Expert Mine Historian Allan Hall has dated the cans pictured below to a range of 1887 to 1904. These cans are called "Solder Top Cans with a Norton Side Seam." The rectangular meat can has a more precise date range of 1900-1904. Other artifacts on the site have been dated to the early 1920's, so what we can say is that the site was actively mined during the early 1900's.


Trash Dump at Mine Site

Trash Dump at Mine Site


Fenced Vertical Shaft

Original Fenced Vertical Shaft


When we first visited the site in the fall of 2009 we noted that there were limited existing remnants of this significant mine site. Nothing is left of the headframe, processing structures, or living facilities of the past workers. All that is left is the large dump rock piles, a few concrete hoist bases, and a deep clear shaft encircled with a simple steel fence. As is the case with many old mines, when work is ceased at a specific site, the wood, tools and machinery are packed up and reused at the next promising location.


The shaft itself is a straight vertical drop of at least 180 feet down to some complex wooden cribbing. Near the bottom is a horizontal drift that was dug following the ore body. The complex cribbing at the bottom of the shaft may be the remnants of a trap door system that enabled the miners to dig and work much deeper, while protecting them from falling debris. Even a small rock falling 180 feet straight down a shaft can kill a miner. Timber cribbing was also installed in shafts when the miners would encounter soft rock in the walls. As you can see in the photo below, the upper rock is fairly strong and has seemed to stay solid for the last 100 years. This does not mean that this mine will stay open indefinitely, as mines such as this one may only stay open scores to hundreds of years.




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View Down Vertical Mine Shaft

View Down the Vertical Mine Shaft


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