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The original mine was created and worked by Mexican workers. They simply worked the landscape with no legal ownership of the land. They were drive off by American prospectors when they realized the Mexican miners weren’t citizens and hadn’t made a claim on the land. A man by the name of Ezra Thayer formally created the mine claim and worked extremely hard securing investors through promotion of the mine. Thayer was a hardware merchant from Phoenix and worked from 1912 to 1920 trying to get the mine started.
Progress at the Monte Christo was slow, but the productive mining region around saw the establishment of a post office on April 25, 1901. Eventually, the Monte Christo Mine took off. Production of high-grade silver and a large gold vein was discovered. By 1925, about 250 miners and other entrepreneurs lived in the town surrounding Monte Christo. A general store, stage line, two-story saloon, and other modern amenities were present. Miners worked three-different shifts and dug out a main shaft down to the 1200’ level. Several miles of drift tunnels fanned out underground approximately every one hundred feet. Ore was hauled out by wagon to Phoenix.
In 1926, Thayer sold the mine to C.C. Julian, an oil-promoter. The mine and others in the area operated with limited success. By 1939, the post-office was discontinued and the town slowly emptied out. The site sat abandoned for over 30 years. In 1970, several buildings were destroyed by a fire set by vandals. Just six years later in 1976, the property was purchased by Goldex (out of Spokane, WA) for $200,000 and intended to refurbish and further develop the claim. After hitting substantial water in the shaft, efforts were abandoned and the property was permanently abandoned. Test drilling in 1984 was the last known activity at the mine. These efforts would never prove to be as successful as the mid-1920s workings.
The remnants have sat relatively undisturbed in the desert and remain for the curious passerby to explore. A large, steel headframe remains over the main portal of the mine. A winch house and impressive machinery remains to the south of the headframe. Use caution in this building as the floor is partially giving out. Several other deteriorating and collapsed buildings remain scattered about the property including extensive tailings, some sort of blacksmith/workshop, and several old cement foundations. Further east of the main ruins, a dilapidated mining road continues east past several other foundations and prospects that were likely part of Constellation. We turned around after about ¾ of a mile.
Other mines in the area, such as the Gold Bar further north, sit on private property but can be viewed from the public Constellation Road. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended for the drive out to Monte Christo. 4x4 isn’t necessary but a good idea if you explore other roads in the area.
The Monte Christo Mine is an abandoned silver mine and mining camp in the Wickenburg Mountains just northeast of present day Wickenburg. Relatively easy access and impressive ruins mean that this is a popular site for off-roaders and campers in the area. It can be found along the Monte Christo Mine Trail (Constellation Road).
The mine at Monte Christo (Spanish for ‘Mount Christ’) was actually part of the larger Constellation mining camp. Although most of Constellation is long gone, the Monte Christo remains in surpisingly good shape. Mining in this area has been off and on since the turn of the century.