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Photo of man participating in the Mucking Contest, n.d.
Participating in the Mucking Contest. Photo courtesy Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce

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Gold Rush Days in Wickenburg, Arizona
A Local Legacy

How would you like to strike gold? There is a gold rush going on in Wickenburg, Arizona. You just have to get in and muck about! Every year, the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce sponsors a festival to celebrate the town's mining and ranching heritage, and participants get to shovel and pan for gold!

Wherever gold is discovered, there is usually a large rush of people who are hoping to get rich quick, which is why it is called a "gold rush." When Henry Wickenburg, an adventurer, discovered gold along the Hassayampa River in 1863, it caused a gold rush, and the town was founded.

In 1948, the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce decided to hold a festival in honor of this discovery. Contests include a drilling and mucking contest and a gold-panning contest. Drilling and mucking is the way that gold is taken from the ground. A mucker is a machine that gets the rock out of the ground and moves broken rock onto a conveyor belt. A hand mucker is a man who shovels ore and unwanted rock out of a mine. Gold panning is the way in which gold dust and flecks are removed from streams and rivers. It takes a lot of work to strike gold!

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