Richinbar MineExplore an old mining town, hohokam petroglyphs and the Agua Fria Canyon!

The Proper Function

Calling All Gold Diggers

The Richinbar Mine, named after Richard N. Baker, operated from 1890 to 1948 and produced more than 30,000 tons of ore. Prior to this era, the land was inhabited by Native Americans. It is uncertain which tribes inhabited the area and are collectively referred to as the “Perry Mesa Tradition”. The Perry Mesa is a series of basalt-capped mesas that align the Agua Fria River and covers approximately 75 square miles. To date, there are more than 400 archaeological sites in this region alone.


It was 1873 when General Crook defeated the Apache and Yvapais Indians on Turret Peak, thus clearing the area for the mining industry. Richinbar Mine was filed for discovery in 1882. By 1896, commercialization of the area had  advanced to include electricity, a stamp mill, telephones and a daily stage coach that connected with Palace Station.Three open shafts exist today, with the Zyke Shaft being the deepest at 500 feet.



A Prescott News article was written about one of two deaths that occurred at the mine. One miner was killed by falling into a shaft, he was later buried in Prescott.. The other, Ed Barden, was killed on August 21, 1897 as he was exiting the mine, suffered a heart attack, causing him to fall back into the shaft just as the Trinitrotoluene (TNT) was detonated. According to the Prescott News, “The Body was interred on a hill above the mine.”0001193125-07-185321_G60707IMG-001

In 1933, the Sterling Mining Corporation obtained control and filed for reorganization through bankruptcy later that year. By 1940, they issued a report stating that the “Reorganization Operation was not successful” and by 1985 it was determined the mine had no further potential. In the end, the mine produced:




From the I-17, you will need to climb, hop or squeeze through a gate located at Forest Road 9006. The Bradshaw Mountains provide a perfect backdrop as you begin your hike down an old dirt road.  The meadows are vast and urge you to move forward as you come closer to a windmill and old corral. 

“ An unprofitable mine is fit only for the sepulcher of a dead mule.” – T.A. Rickard

The old ranch structure contains a wooden work desk, rusted box spring and other items that place you in a different time. As you Continue down the dirt path, the Agua Fria Canyon will slowly emerge. The path will come to a fork when you reach an old rock foundation with several pioneer graves scattered about the area (Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project – Neal Du Shane). 



If you look north, a path will lead you up a hill. This hill is topped with a cluster of boulders and is the location of the Petroglyphs. This area was also once rich with pottery, arrowheads and other artifacts, but that part of history has been robbed by those who came before us. With that, a sign located here to encourage you to leave the land and artifacts as they are and not to disrupt the appreciation of future visitors.



Continuing south at the initial fork, you will notice a rock structure (roof support for managers residence, not chimney as some describe) that stands upon a hill like a crucifix. Based on the description from the Prescott News, if you continue past this structure up the hill you will come upon what is believed to be the grave of Ed Barden. While no marker or headstone identifies this as his grave site, the Arizona Pioneer & Cemetery Research Project  has stated it is the only adult male grave in the area. Continue up the highest hill behind the mill and you will discover a large water holding tank. From river to hill is approximately 1,000 feet high, remarkable sophistication of the time. If you have binoculars, look to the boulders near the river and you will see the foundation of the old Power House.



PetroglyphsCyanide TanksMine Shafts


Learn Rock Art

Native Americans created purpose in their rock art as part of their tribal heritage. These designs mark local landscapes (trails, water), recorded history (hunts), skywatching (movement of the sun), game hunting (encourage fertility of game), spiritual life (ceremonies) and seeking visions. Often this illustrations will tell a story or characterize legend. Even today we use similar symbols for communication such as $, &, # and @. Look around you! Can you connect the rock art with their surroundings?


sulfuerMan has held a fascination with recovering gold since the beginning of time, Richinbar was no different. These tanks used Cyanide which allowed for gravity separation, flotation and recovery. As you glance down the canyon, you will see the waste product that has collected into a dam-like structure. While highly poisonous, it is still key today in extracting gold and silver from ore.


Zyke Shaft.The Zyke Shaft at Richinbar Mine is 1 of 3 shafts. The workings of the Zyke shaft (main shaft) is 500 feet deep and connects with several thousand feet of workings extending northward. The largest stope was on the 140 foot level at 65 feet long, 55 feet high and 14 feet wide. This shaft produced some 8,000 tons of ore. Each of these shaft are open and extremely dangerous, so do not attempt to approach them.

This Proper Function
(Approximate Data)
Party Cloudy
2,315ftElevation 13.7hrsDistance From You
LocationRichinbar Mine
State, RegionArizona,Central
Coordinates34.20409°, -112.10808°
DirectionsView on Google Maps
Time3 Hours


Dan is an explorer for The Outbound and founder of The Proper Function, an outdoor editorial. He is passionate about exploration and can’t stay put for more than a week.