For Sale: Legendary Arizona Gold Mine, Ghosts Included
This skinny, 266-acre property in Arizona is not much to see from above ground: cacti, dirt and an off-the-grid two-bedroom manufactured home, two hours from anywhere. The reason for the property's $5.9 million price tag is hidden underground: 25 miles of tunnels into what was once one of the richest sources of gold in the U.S.
The first people to discover the mine reported that the area was littered with gold nuggets the size of potatoes, according to a book on the Weaver Mining District. In its heyday in the late 1800s, Octave was a bustling town with a school, a post office, a general store and a stagecoach line. The mines there were some of the most productive in the Old West before the area was abandoned by Asarco sometime in the 1940s.
But recent federal rules about mine ownership have made it difficult to establish new mines, prompting some dreamers to take another run at mines like Octave -- a sort of second gold rush for this part of rural Arizona.
The current owner of the property, at 14125 W. Ben Jaffe Blvd in Wickenburg, Arizona, is selling land all the way along the mine's shaft, up the mountain. Last year, the Octave mine was featured in a short-lived cable show called "Ghost Mine," where paranormal experts explored reports of ghosts in abandoned mines, including the spooky and notorious "Blue Devil of Octave."
The reality TV ghost-hunt is hardly the strangest thing to happen at Octave. Over the decades, the mine has been frequented by rough characters. In 1975, the Rev. Jack Oliphant, leader of a religious camp for juvenile delinquents, fell for a scam and bought $100,000 in supposed stock that he thought gave him ownership of a platinum mine. He moved there with a band of well-armed young men that made up the Ranch Challenge Hallelujah People.
According to reports, the move immediately launched a dispute over ownership with the mine's guards, and the two groups feuded for years, even after those at the corporation selling fake platinum-mine shares were arrested on felony charges. In 1978, Oliphant accidentally shot off most of his own arm with a shotgun during a confrontation.
"The Octave is one of the real big boys of the mining industry," said listing agent Preston Westmoreland, a former local radio personality who has schooled himself in local mining history to sell the unusual property. "It's attracted a lot of attention."
Westmoreland said that he has flown foreign investors and geologists over the property to take a look, and he's also taken some of them underground to explore the abandoned, dark shafts. It's hard to choose a listing price for a mine, he said. It helps that the property includes a revenue-generating FM radio tower.
"There are no comps; you just have to project," he said, acknowledging that the land itself wasn't much to look at. "But dirt that has gold in it, or possibly gold? That's a whole different deal."