Quietly nestled in the Kofa Wildlife National Refuge in Yuma County Is Castle Dome Mine Museum. Castle Dome, 40 miles northeast of Yuma, contains the longest-working mine in Arizona. The museum is so authentically rich in history and insights that this will give you a
wonderful view of what life was like when they mined. It is brilliantly presented in a way that for just a split second you will began to think you were in a time warp. It operated from 1862 to 1979. During its heyday, 3,000 residents lived here despite blistering summer temperatures.
Jacob Snively, who had served with Sam Houston, is credited as the first American to discover the rich silver and lead deposits. Yet he followed a trail blazed by Spanish conquistadors who mined here in the 1600s.
The Castle Dome Mine was patented in 1876. With no railroad access, tenacious ingenuity was required for ore shipments. In 1878, Castle Dome Mine built the world’s largest wagon with a capacity of 20 tons. The wagon required a team of 40 horses or mules to pull. (crazy right?)
When the property was first purchased in 1993, Allen and Stephanie Armstrong created they started with a handful of original buildings. More structures were hauled in from outlying mines, while others were constructed on-site using salvaged materials. Artifacts from Castle Dome Mines Museum were
pulled from surrounding mine shafts. Armstrong has been exploring the 300 shafts gouged into the landscape, some are done by rappelling 250 feet into the darkness. He has entered shafts that have been sealed off for a century or more. Some items have been preserved nicely by the Arizona weather.