© Liam O Shea photography
Creativity, Friendliness, Style. Come be Bisbee for awhile
In 1877, a reconnaissance detail of U.S. army scouts and cavalrymen was sent to the Mule Mountains to search the area for renegade Apaches. What civilian tracker Jack Dunn found instead were signs of mineralization indicating the presence of lead, copper, and possibly silver.
The first mining claim was staked in what would later become the City of Bisbee. The filing of this claim and many others sent prospectors and speculators scurrying to the Mule Mountains in hopes of striking it rich. Numerous ore bodies were located, and Bisbee soon became known as the “Queen of the Copper Camps.” Mining in the Mule Mountains was quite successful, and Bisbee proved to be one of the richest mineral sites in the world, producing nearly three million ounces of gold and more than eight billion pounds of copper, not to mention the silver, lead, and zinc that came from these rich lands.
By the early 1900s, driven by the booming mining industry, Bisbee had become the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. With a population of over 20,000 people by the beginning of the century, Bisbee was one of the most cultured cities in the west. The town is still home to the nation’s (arguably) oldest ballfield (Warren Ballpark), and the state’s first community library (Copper Queen), all dating from this period, and all still currently in operation and open to the public.
Along with Bisbee’s cosmopolitan character, the colorful, rough edges of the mining camp could still be found in the notorious Brewery Gulch, with its saloons and brothels. In its heyday, the Gulch boasted nearly 50 saloons and was considered one of the liveliest spots in the west. Historic taverns still retain the rich character and boom-town flavor of this period.
Today, Bisbee is a culturally rich community with an active and varied population. Bisbee retains its welcoming spirit, offering visitors a rich mix of art, music, history, architecture, outdoor activities, dining, and nightlife.
The Smithsonian-affiliated Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum has welcomed, educated, and entertained more than a half-million visitors over recent decades. Among its exhibits is “Bisbee: Urban Outpost on the Frontier,” an in-depth look at the lives of the miners and settlers of this unique area of the Southwest. And the world-famous Queen Mine Tour offers a fascinating, up-close experience of the underground world of the miners who carved their community and a living out of bedrock.
A must-see in Bisbee is the Copper Queen Mine tour, where you get to suit up in a mining hat and light and take a tour underground to see what it was like to live and work as a miner.
Bisbee is a family-friendly town with tours, parks, shops, e-bikes and even the community pool and outdoor recreation center. Our community respects and loves all types of people, and we welcome our tourists and travelers to experience what Bisbee has to offer. Our artist community is booming, and we have an eclectic group of artists who grace the town.
Immerse yourself in history, art, and nightlife. Come be Bisbee for awhile. Visit www.discoverbisbee.com
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Located 90 miles southeast of Tucson and nestled among the Mule Mountains, Bisbee is the picturesque county seat of historic Cochise County.