About the Vulture Gold Mine
The Walnut Grove Dam Disaster

In the late 1880’s, a water company built two dams on the Hassayampa River, north of Wickenburg. Runoff from the Bradshaw Mountains was severe in February 1890 and the upper dam was in danger of bursting. The water company sent a messenger to warn people at the lower dam and further down the river, but the messenger stopped at a bar for a drink. Several drinks later, the messenger had completely forgotten his errand. The dam burst and water washed down the riverbed.

The devastation was great. Eyewitnesses said a wall of water some ninety to one hundred feet high swept down the stream, carrying away giant boulders and trees. About eighty people lost their lives, and the property loss was enormous. Henry Wickenburg’s farm, except for his house, was almost a total loss.

Henry Wickenburg, despite being denied payment for his mine, was not destitute. His farm prospered and his remaining mining venture, the Smith Company, brought in some money. Wickenburg, unfortunately, had sold the Vulture Mine before anyone determined its true wealth. At the time, most gold strikes played out within a few weeks. It had probably seemed prudent to sell before the Vulture did the same. Wickenburg continued to prospect, but he was never again as lucky. He regretted selling the Vulture Mine for the rest of his life.

Wickenburg was a likable man who made many friends throughout the years. When he was seventy years old, in 1890, the Walnut Grove Dam disaster destroyed most of his ranch. Wickenburg was too old to start over. He told friends that he was old and tired of living. Little by little, he donated most of his land to the town of Wickenburg. In 1905 he was eighty-five, and no longer able to live on his own. Wickenburg walked into a grove of trees behind his house, and turned his old Colt revolver on himself. The town of Wickenburg now surrounds his grave.

Gold Fever | Henry Wickenburg | Highgrading | Ghosts | The Goldwaters | The Vulture's Discovery
The Glory Hole | The Hanging Tree | The Walnut Grove Dam Disaster |
The Vulture's "Profit Sharing Plan" | Gold Mines vs. Gold Placers | The Depression at the Vulture |
John and Marge Osborne | The Birth of Phoenix, AZ

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