Bisbee, AZ is a town of approximately 5,221 residents, located 3 hours driving time South East of Phoenix.
The town was founded as a copper, silver, and gold mining town in 1880. At it’s peak the population was just under 10,000.
As you approach Bisbee from the south, you see the now defunct Lavender Pit. This open pit mine that started up in 1950 is 900 ft deep. It’s production through 1974, when it closed, totaled 86 million tons of ore which yielded 600,000 tons of copper. A by-product was turquoise, known as Bisbee Blue, and is among the world’s finest turquoise.
At the visitor center, you can book a tour of the Copper Queen Mine. The tour ($13 USD per adult) takes about an hour and takes you in a small mining train to the depths of the mine. You don slickers and miners hats with lanterns and you gain an appreciation of the lives of the miners. It’s cold in the deep underground, so no matter the time of year, it’s a good idea to dress warm for this tour.
The visitor center also houses a self-guided mining museum from the hey day of the copper mines in the area.
Bisbee, nestled in the Mule Mountains, was world-renowned for diverse minerals and the wealth of copper. The clear azure sky provides a stunning backdrop for the mineral-rich, red hills in the area.
Old Bisbee (featured image) is easily navigable by foot and the downtown area is rich in culture and heritage. When we visited, there were over 30 dining/drinking/coffee shop establishments to choose from, catering to many different cuisines and palettes. Gift shops and galleries were plentiful. There were also a number of historical hotels still in operation.
It was easy to spend a day exploring the town and surrounding area. I’d like to return some day and book into one of those old hotels for a night or two in order to spend more time exploring the old downtown area.
Lady Liberty is made of 3/32-inch thick copper – about the thickness of two pennies. The green color or patina is the natural aging of the copper and in some places is nearly as thick as the copper itself. The statue stands 305 feet tall, or about the height of a 22-story building. She was the tallest structure in New York City when she was unveiled.
- Georgia Dullea in: “Little Bits of History The Two Sisters”