Frontier Street in Wickenburg

Frontier Street_Wickenburg

     Wickenburg is a small town located in Maricopa County, with a portion in neighboring Yavapai County. According to the 2010 US Census, the population of the town is 6,363. Though only 54 miles away from the hustle and bustle of modern Phoenix, Arizona’s most western community harkens back to a different time and place.

     Nature graced Wickenburg with a gentle magic. Resting on the northern edge of the Sonoran Desert, just below Arizona’s mountainous country, the Wickenburg area abounds in natural beauty. While the area’s geological treasures attracted the miners from around the world, the Hassayampa River flood plain provided fertile soil for farming and ranching.

     An 1862 gold strike on the Colorado River near present-day Yuma inspired hardy prospectors and miners, predominantly from California and Mexico, to search for minerals throughout central Arizona. Among the gold searchers was the adventurer, Henry Wickenburg. He came from far-off lands, lured by the dream of abundant gold. His quest was rewarded by the discovery of the Vulture Mine, where over $30 million in gold has been dug from the ground. Throughout the foothills surrounding Wickenburg are relics of other mines that stand as a tribute to the pioneer miner and prospector. The mining lore of the region, past and present, adds much to the charm of the area.

     Ranchers and farmers who built homes along the fertile plain of the Hassayampa River accompanied the miners. Many of the resourceful and committed settlers came from Sonora, Mexico, giving this area the distinction of being the northern edge of the Hispanic ranching frontier. Together with Henry Wickenburg and the miners, they helped found the young community of Wickenburg in 1863.

     Wickenburg is considered the Dude Ranch Capital of the World. Today, some of the area’s historic ranches still offer their unique brand of Western hospitality. The town’s western ambience still thrives. The town has cherished the best traditions of its colorful early days, and is committed to preserving the best traditions of the Old West. © Tanna Thornburg 2014