The ghost town of Tumco is located in the Cargo Muchacho Mountains. The mines in the Cargo Muchacho mountains were called the most hazardous in the southwest due to the many cave-ins and frequent fires.

In the 1890’s Tumco was a thriving gold mining town with a population of 500, producing $1,000 in gold per day. The town was previously called Hedges but was later changed to Tumco and it was one of the earliest gold mining areas in California.

One of the last buildings still standing

Hedges was abandoned in 1905 due to over-expansion and increasing debt. A few years later in 1910, the United Mines Company gave it another go, renaming it ‘Tumco.’ By 1911, the diminishing prospects of the mines forced the miners and their families to return to Yuma, signaling the end of Hedges/Tumco as a community. 

Gold was first discovered by Spanish colonists. Legend says two young boys came into their camp one night with their shirts filled with gold ore. These muchachos cargados (loaded boys) were the namesake for the Cargo Muchacho Mountains, where the Hedges/Tumco deposits were found. Following the first discovery of gold, numerous small mines were operated by Mexican settlers for many years.

In 1877, the Southern Pacific Railroad completed the Yuma to Los Angeles line of its transcontinental route. This initial rush to stake mining claims soon gave way to mining companies that moved into the area, they purchased claims and developed the mines on a large scale. A 12 mile wood pipeline pumped over 100,000 gallons of water from the Colorado River per day, and the railroad carried mine timbers from northern Arizona for the expansive underground workings.

The remains of 2 more buildings

In the end, over 200,000 ounces of gold were taken from the mines in the Cargo Muchacho Mountains.

Over the years, there were several mines operating in the area of Hedges. The American Girl Mine produced a good deal of gold and is now the main site of the current gold mining activity. You can boondock on BLM land right next to the mine. Maybe you’ll even find yourself some gold! 😉

You can read more interesting facts on Tumco here. Wheelingit (one of my very favorite bloggers) has a great blog post on Tumco as well. I tried to find a layout of the town to see what buildings were what. I didn’t have much luck and the signs at the site aren’t visible anymore.

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