A new exhibit has just opened at Cave Creek Museum’s Arizona Gold Mining Experience. The new mine shaft is a replica of a typical hard rock Arizona gold mine. To enhance the experience, lights flash and the earth shakes to replicate sequential dynamite explosions. Visitors will learn how the introduction of dynamite and compressed air rock drills increased a mine’s output, but also made it far more dangerous for Arizona miners at the time.

READ ALSO: Arizona mining industry steps up to meet skyrocketing demand for copper

About the Experience

The Arizona Gold Mining Experience features the mine, a tram, a crusher and the 10-stamp mill as part of a 90-minute fascinating demonstration. 

The expansive outdoor experience begins in the museum’s lobby with a lively retelling of the Cave Creek mining district’s history. Guests then move outside for numerous demonstrations that showcase the hard rock ore extraction process for which Cave Creek is renowned.

The excitement builds to the operation of the amazing Golden Reef Stamp Mill and Tramway, Arizona’s only fully operational ten-stamp ore crushing mill. The 10, 1,000-lb. stamps slam down in synchronized motion to pound ore removed from the mine into fine gravel. The stamp mill was brought from its former location at the Golden Reef Mine on Continental Mountain to Cave Creek Museum, which has the only fully operational mining stamp mill in its original mining district in Arizona; it is located and located just five miles from its site on the mountain. The giant stamp mill also is connected to a working tramway and ore carts that carry the ore to be pulverized to the stamp mill.

The experience continues as guests peer into a mineshaft to show the blasting techniques used by hard rock miners. Next, onto the new blacksmith shop for a demonstration of the many skills used when parts and tools had to be fabricated onsite.

Guests then are encouraged to try their luck at the new gold panning station, where museum volunteers show visitors how to pan for ore and minerals just like the prospectors did.

Afterward, visitors enjoy a tour of the museum’s inside exhibits, including the Feast of Rocks (a mineral display) on loan from the Arizona Mineral, Mining Museum and Natural Resources Education Museum.

Other exhibits showcasing Arizona’s mining history include historical and archaeology; articles from Cave Creek’s mining and agricultural past; the historic first Cave Creek church; and the tuberculosis cabin, which is on the National Register of Historic Places as the only known existing tubercular cabin from that era.

The Arizona Gold Mining Experience runs the second Saturday of every month, October through May. 11 AM-12:45 PM in the museum lobby and admission is $7 for adults; $5 for seniors; children under 12 are free. Visitors should plan on arriving early so they can purchase admission prior to the event. We encourage guests to purchase their tickets in advance by visiting them museum’s website at cavecreekmuseum.org