Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Castle Dome Mine - Part 1 ---- March 11, 2015

As I mentioned yesterday, Nikko and I went on a little vacation....and we didn't have to go far!   There are A LOT of photos on this part of our road trip.  So many, I'm going to divide it into two separate days' posts....Part 1 and Part 2.  Then I will post where we boondocked for five days.

You've seen tons of photographs of Castle Dome from my view across the reservoir and beyond....

Well, that's where we went!  Right to Castle Dome!  Once out of the BLM and the Yuma Proving Grounds and out onto 95, our turn off onto Castle Dome Mine Road was only 10 miles.

The travel "fun" started a couple of miles down the road - NOT!  Can you say, "WASHBOARD"???   It took 50 minutes to go 10 miles down the gravel road.  Nikko did not particularly enjoy the more than bumpy ride....something very similar to an earthquake!  He finally settled down on the floor between the seats.  He would periodically look up at me and say, "When in the heck is the going to be over??"  The one funny thing about it was, after FIVE miles of this very uncomfortable road, they posted this sign!  UHHHHHH.....thanks for the heads up! No one would have ever noticed!  LOL!

Our destination was not only to see an iconic rock formation, but also to experience the lives of those who worked the Castle Dome silver and lead mines from the 1864 to the 1979.  A little history, then all the photos.  In 1994, Allen and Stephanie Armstrong started gathering up old buildings and salvaged materials...about 35...strewn across this desert area and restoring them in one, easy to navigate, location. Seven buildings are original to this mining town. This is known as Castle Dome is an open air "museum" and ghost town :-)  A more extensive history can be read here: History of Castle Dome.  It's an interesting read!

As I've mentioned previously, I'm generally not too interested in "tourist attractions", however, the $10 [adult] admission fee was well worth it here.  As you will see in the photos, the Armstrongs took great care in preserving authenticity.  Nothing is overdone or trite.  All of the artifacts are true and representative of the time.  I hope all the American history buffs and antique enthusiasts out there will enjoy this!  Okay -- let the tour begin!  The pictures are primarily self explanatory.  Most of the dual photos will be out of the blog boundary lines so they are large enough to see.

Volunteers help out around the grounds.  This fellow must be the official sign painter!

Upon entering the "museum" several buildings are well within sight....

Here's an old mining trolley with Castle Dome in the near background...  
and the church "steeple" can be seen from most every vantage point

 We will start with the church.... note the tin ceiling...

Castle Dome can be seen through the window right above the pipe organ

This is a fairly "lavish" hotel for the times...
The stairway entry area - love the ceiling detail

Lobby area and "parlor" area...

bar and game room....

Right next to the church!

Complete with a coffin....just in case.... 


Like the stone work....

Collectors of shaving mugs and mustache cups will like these!


Military men and women have "signed in" here in this room totally dedicated
 to those who have, and are, serving.  
Lead mining here was an important factor during WWII.

(I'm not so much into machinery, but the ingenuity is appealing!)

Detailed and colorful dresses, hats, and crocheted blankets

The shop for all of the household needs...wood stoves, grain, housewares, kitchenware, small furniture, canned goods....and a fancy dress for the gals!

True, family-style dining at its best!  
Outdoor seating, too!
I like all the mis-matched chairs around the big wooden table.    

The "sunroom" upscale dining area.  Love the collection of sparkly depression glass!  

Every town needs one!  
Another nice stonework building.
Monies and such were kept in a large safe behind the teller's window.
The tin tiles add a decorative, "rich" touch inside and out.  

I will end the first half of the tour here, with the woodworking shop.  
Virtually everything in the town was made from wood.  This had to have been a busy place!


My friends and family in Ohio will appreciate that one piece of woodworking machinery came from Cincinnati!  At the time it was very important (and lucrative) to produce machinery for the expanding west. This company was founded in 1852 by a machinist and a carpenter - Steptoe & McFarlan.  In 1878, Mr. Steptoe retired and the company was continued by its remaining partners, Thomas McFarlan and H.E. Nottingham.  If you are interested, read more here:  McFarlan & Nottingham.

I will conclude the tour of Castle Dome City tomorrow.  Some may wonder why I am exposing so much in the blog -- maybe "giving away the ending" of the story.  Well....unless you are planning a trip to exactly this area, it will probably not be a stopping place.  Even if you are, there is so much detail here, the photos don't do it justice.  Pictures can't give you the personal experience of  rumbling 10 miles down that washboard road and going back in time to this mining town in the middle of the desert!



  1. Feel like I've been there now! Love the old things there. Tile ceilings. ...☺☺☺! À good vacation trip, for sure! And I agree with Nikko on the washboard road!
    Thanks for all the photos!

  2. It's great those people put it all in one place and in such a great way! I love vintage clothing so those were a couple of my favorite pictures!

    The machinery is what it is, but it is what paved the way for all we have today...and to come from Cincinnati and wind up there! Very cool.

    This was all very interesting! Will check out Part 2!

  3. You were right. ...I didn't see so much of it the first time! The stores, the glassware and cups, the clothing,.... school, machines, all very, very great to see. Chances of my going there are slim to none, so thanks!