Wickenburg, Arizona sits along the banks of Hassayampa Creek. The town was established as a supply depot for the Vulture Mine, discovered in 1852 by Henry Wickenburg, after whom the town is named.
By 1870, almost 500 people lived in Wickenburg, providing supplies and workers for the mine — throughout its lifetime, the Vulture produced more than 200 million in gold. Besides mining, the Hassayampa flood plain provided fertile ground for farmers and ranchers. The young town survived many trials including droughts, desperadoes and one truly disastrous flood in 1890 when the Walnut Creek Dam burst killing nearly 70 people.
For centuries, the western Yavapai (or Tolkapaya) Native American tribe, called the Haseyamo home — the word Haseyamo means “following the water as far as it goes.” Needless to say, the Yavapai were less than thrilled when European settlers appeared and took over their lands, so the small town was also plagued by Indian attacks. The most notorious was the Loring or Wickenburg massacre in which Henry Loring and several companions were slain while travel by stage coach to Wickenberg (although some think it was not natives, but two other passengers, Mr. Kruger and Miss Sheppard who were only slightly injured).
Today, Wickenberg survives mainly by tourism and to support the surrounding ranches. The downtown area offers a glimpse of the Old West. Frontier Street looks much as it did in the 1900s, with covered sidewalks and false front that disguise the older adobe buildings. The Santa Fe Railroad Depot, now fully restored, is the home of the Chamber of Commerce. The old brick post office, the Jones Pharmacy, Hyder’s Livery Stable, Upton House and many more of the old building still remain. The oldest building in town is the Etter General Store, which is adjacent to the Homestead Restaurant.
Wickenberg offers several unusual and fun things to do including:
- Vulture Mine — the walking tour is great fun and an amazing way to touch and feel the history of the mining life.
- Desert Caballeros Western Museum — offers amazing displays, including many fine Western paintings and sculptures, as well as art and history of the West.
- Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts — is a 600-seat theatre featuring outstanding artists from around the state, the region, the U.S. and the world.
- Hassayampa River Preserve — The Hassayampa River flows mostly underground for nearly 100 miles, but rises to the surface within the preserve creating an oasis in the Sonoran Desert. Walking trails follow the lush habitats where you can catch glimpses of nearly 270 species of birds.
- The Jail Tree — Stop by this 200-year-old mesquite tree, located at Tegner and Wickenberg Way. It once served as Wickenburg’s Jail, where offenders were chained to the tree!
- Gold Rush Days — every year on the second weekend in February, the town hosts Gold Rush Days, a rootin’-tootin’ Wild West weekend, that always kicks off with a shootout on Frontier Street.
There are several guest ranches in the area which allow visitors to get a feel for life in the Old West as well. In addition, the town has several hotels/motels where guests can stay. With both chain and local, colorful restaurants, there are plenty of places to eat. Less than an hour’s drive away, is the Valley of the Sun which includes Phoenix and the surrounding communities with every amenity including great nightlife, museums, sports and more.
Wickenberg Chamber of Commerce
216 N Frontier St.
Wickenburg, AZ 85390