Photograhing the Vulture City Ghost Town, near Wickenburg, AZ

We love to seek out and explore “ghost towns” as the are usually very interesting and photogenic for “Americana” photos. We recently made two trips to the Vulture City Ghost Town which is 20 minutes south of Wickenburg and about an hour from Phoenix. Here is what you might see.

We have been to dozens of ghost towns. There are three types: 1. a true historic ghost town that is abandoned and left with skeletons of old buildings and foundations. 2. an “old town” that still has residents and maybe a working post office, but is far smaller and run down from its heyday. 3. a historic town that is run by a family, non-profit, or the state that has been re-built and refurbished to look like it did when it was a working town. All of these “ghost towns” can be fun to photograph, but the third type is the most fun and has the most subjects. Some ghost towns have great building and some have great interiors and some have both. Vulture City (as it was a mining town) does not have the prettiest exteriors, but the interiors are really interesting and fun to photograph.

When you arrive, there is trailer for check-in, a small fee, and a map of the town. Definitely take the map for your first visit. It is helpful to know the names and uses of the buildings, as well as the orientation from the mine buildings to the town buildings.

As I said before the exteriors are not that great. I make up that there was not a lot of investment into the looks of the buildings as it was a working mine for many years. For example, there is no church and no school which usually are some of the best buildings.

The mine buildings have a lot of equipment and various tools. The garage and the workshop were two of my favorites.

Maybe the best building is the Assays Office, as it is the largest building and has several rooms re-populated to look as it did while the mining town was occupied. Also fun to see is Henry Wickenburg’s cabin and the hanging tree next to it.

Finally, don’t miss the bunk houses, the brothel, and “brides’s room.”

I think a good two hours here should suffice to see all of the buildings and interiors. I don’t think you need hiking boots, but I would recommend good shoes as it is a bit of a walk and it is mostly on loose gravel and dirt.

To get some of these interiors shots you will need a tripod for long exposures as they are dark with only window light. I did not try my point and shoot or iPhone in the buildings so those may work. We used both color cameras and infrared cameras (for the monochrome images). I would also suggest a wide angel lens (I used a 10-24 mm) to capture full rooms and a short telephoto for closes-ups (I used a 24-105 mm).

Here is a link to the Vulture City Ghost Town website for more information. They have guided tours, self-guided tours, night tours, and are a venue for weddings and other events.

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