A former silver & lead mine a few miles north of Tonopah
The Tonopah-Belmont Mine is a former silver & lead mine located a few miles north of Tonopah and about 20 miles southwest of Wickenburg. The mine sits in the Belmont Mountains. Fairly extensive workings have left numerous abandoned foundations, buildings, mine shafts, and tailings piles throughout the area. To reach the mine, follow Belmont Mountain Trail for approximately 8 miles north from Tonopah.
Periodic prospecting occurred in the area beginning in the 1860s, around the same time as the founding of Belmont’s popular and successful neighbor – the Vulture Mine. During this time however, no claims were filed around Belmont Mountain. Following World War I, a large number of veterans and families flocked to the southwest area. They sought not gold & silver but clean, dry air. Thus, the Tonopah area saw a population boom as people took up Homesteading.
It was about 1920 when work began at Belmont. Residents from the nearby town didn’t have to venture far to find mineral riches. The volcanic makeup of Belmont Mountain (which is part of the larger Big Horn Mountains) was a breeding ground for precious metals. The mine initially began in pursuit of silver and lead. The mine was named after the very successful Tonopah Mine in Nevada, located of course in the Belmont Mountains.
From 1924 to 1930 was the most active periods at the mine. About 50 people were employed at the mine and lived and worked in the surrounding mountains. Numerous horizontal adits as well as vertical shafts were created to access the mine. The primary haulage tunnel was the horizontal adit on the south side of the mountain where most of the tailings and foundations remain. The vertical shaft reached down to the 500 foot level, with workings at 100’, 250’, and 400’ level. Gold and copper were also found in lesser quantities. It appears that most ore was processed on site, however where the refined ore was taken afterwards is unclear.
Productivity of the mine began to slow following the Great Depression, and by the onset of World War II, operations had ceased at the mine. Most of the population moved on to other mines or likely settled down in nearby Tonopah.
For decades, the mine remained completely open for any passerby or collector to visit. In 1990 a man entered the mine working and fell 350 feet down a winze to his death. The Arizona Department of Mines & Mineral Resources decided to seal off all access to the mine and added steel grates across the entrances. However, in 2002, another man entered the mine (prying open these steel grates) and entered the tunnel where he also fell to his death. More secure reinforcements were later added to prevent any further casualties. In a somewhat rare case, Belmont operated for numerous years without a single working fatality. It was 50 years later when the mine claimed 2 lives due to unwary explorers. The nearby Morning Star mine was recently filled in within the last 5 years.
Today, the Tonopah-Belmont Mine makes for a nice stop on the scenic and moderately-easy Belmont Mountain Trail. Most of the foundations (including the stamp mill and now gated-off main adit) can be found on the south slopes of Belmont Mountain. Vehicle barricades mean that a short distance hike is required to see most of the ruins. Numerous foundations and an old dynamite storage building sits east of the mine. The 500’ vertical shaft (gated off) can be seen by rougher and narrower 4x4 trails on the north side of the mountain.
"History of Tonopah Area" by Jodey Lynne Elsner http://aztvcc.com/history/
"Abandoned Mines Part I: Preserve or Destroy?" by Allan Hall http://www.wickenburg-az.com/2010/03/abandoned-mines-part-i-preserve-or-destroy/
"Tonopah-Belmont Mine" https://www.mindat.org/loc-3354.html