I forgot about Bisbee & Douglas …

I apologize – I talked about going down to the Mexican border and then in my last post, I talked about Tombstone and I guess I got distracted and forgot all about our road trip the next day on down to Bisbee and Douglas, AZ (at the border).

Bisbee is really a pretty cool little town, reminds me of Jerome in that it’s what some might call “eclectic” with a “touch of whimsy”.  The town is built into the side of the mountain and the streets and sidewalks curve and climb up and down the hillside.  The main part of downtown (about 6-8 blocks) is lined with all kinds of “artsy” shops along with cafes and brew pubs.

Large deposits of lead, copper, and silver were discovered in the Mule Mountains in 1877 and the area later became the town of Bisbee, and is now the county seat of Coshise County.

Kathy and I toured the Queen Copper Mine (pictures in the slide show below) and our tour guide Jim was a retired miner who put in 43 years working the mine – a wealth of experience and knowledge.

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Here’s a short 7 second video showing Kathy and me on the train heading into the mountain about 1200 feet.

By the early 1900’s, 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 the nation’s (arguably) oldest ballfield (Warren Ballpark), Arizona’s first golf course (Turquoise Valley), 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.

Just down the street, on our way from Bisbee to Douglas, we found the ghost town of Lowell.  See my next post for info and pictures on that curious place.  We didn’t even know it was there, just stumbled upon it – really cool.



Our Trip to The Border

As workampers at Rancho Verde RV Park, Kathy and I have five days each week to ourselves to do and go as we please.  This week we decided to take the coach (with car in tow) and make a road trip down to see Tombstone, Bisbee, and Douglas (at the Mexican border).

We headed out on Sunday morning, stayed Sunday night at Casa Grande (at the Rover’s Roost Escapees RV Park), then on down to spend two add’l nights just south of Benson, AZ at Saguaro Escapees RV Park).  As Escapees members, our night at Casa Grande cost $17 and the nightly charge at Benson was $20, both including full hook-up (50 amp electric, water, sewer, wi-fi).

The map below shows our trip from Camp Verde and back again (624 miles).  While parked at Benson, we took the car down to Tombstone, Bisbee, and Douglas but I didn’t log that add’l mileage, (approx 240 miles down and back 2 days).

The attraction to Tombstone was the story of Wyatt Earp and his brothers (Virgil and Morgan) along with Doc Holliday and others in the famous “Gunfight at the OK Corral”.  It’s amazing how famous that gunfight is given it only lasted 30 seconds from start to finish!

Tombstone reached its pinnacle of riches and then faded, all within the short span of eight years. The West’s wildest mining town owes its beginning to Ed Schieffelin, who prospected the nearby hills in 1877.

While we were visiting Historic Tombstone we also took a self-guided tour of the Birdcage Theater, the only 100% original (not restored) building in Tombstone.  The combination theater/saloon/gambling parlor/brothel operated from 1881-1889.  The reason there are not other buildings in 100% original condition is that Tombstone had two devastating fires – one in June of 1881 and the second in May of 1882.  I’ve got some pictures in the slide show below.

Many of these pictures reflect how the theater was found by the new owners when they purchased the theater in 1939 after being boarded up since 1889.

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After touring the Birdcage and walking both sides of Allen Street and seeing a lot of the typical tourist trap sort of stores, souvenir shops, shows, and more  – we went on down the street to take another self-guided tour of the original county courthouse, now an Arizona State Park & Museum.

Image result for gallowsThe gallows stood outside the courthouse and the sheriff would send out personal invitations to the periodic hangings of wild men and even wilder women.

The courthouse was built in 1882 and was used continuously until 1931 when the county seat was changed from Tombstone to Bisbee as a result of the reduced mining activity around Tombstone.

The slide show below shows some of the items of interest in the courthouse that was left empty and unused from 1931 until 1955 when interested local citizens got together and worked to open the Cochise County Historical Museum.  Some of the other items have significance to Tombstone history.

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We both found these two museums very interesting as they brought the lives of early miners and outlaws to life.

Riding The Verde Canyon Railroad

This week we took the opportunity to take the train from Clarkdale, AZ up to Perkinsville, AZ.  It was a 2 hour trip up and a 2 hour trip back where we were able to see the beautiful rock walls of the Verde Canyon and learn about early mining history.

Much of the canyon is only accessible by train or by foot, there are no roads up to Perkinsville.

The railway first began making trips in 1912. It was built to support area mines like the copper mines of Jerome. The Sante Fe Railway operated the Verde Canyon line from 1912 to 1989. The line was purchased by the Durbano Family in 1989 who began to offer scenic excursions in 1990. Today, it has become an Arizona treasure that hosts as many as sixty thousand people annually. (more on the history by following this link)

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Here’s a short video showing the engines that pulled the train.  This was shot while we were standing still at Perkinsville waiting for the engines to switch from one end of the train to the other to pull us back to Clarkdale.

Find out more about the town and business of Clarkdale by reading my other post here.

The Importance of Copper In Our Lives

On our way up to Clarkdale, AZ to ride the Verde Canyon Railroad, we stopped to visit the Arizona Copper Museum.  This museum is all designed, assembled, and maintained by volunteers and it represents a fabulous collection of all things copper and how important copper has been and continues to be in our lives.

The museum association bought the old Clarkdale High School, removed the banks of lockers along the first floor hallway to convert the space to display cases and use each of the classrooms to display specific ways copper has been used over the centuries.

The slide show below gives you a glimpse of what’s inside the museum.  We could’ve spent hours looking at all the displays.

Located at the base of Cleopatra Hill, Clarkdale, Arizona is a former company town located in the Verde Valley. Founded by William A. Clark, the owner of one of Jerome, Arizona’s largest copper mines, Clarkdale was one of the country’s best “company” towns. The Town of Clarkdale is situated in the Verde Valley, located in the North Central part of Arizona. The Town was founded in 1912 and was the first planned community in the State of Arizona. Clarkdale was a “company town” owned by the United Verde Copper Company and provided housing and services for its employees who worked in the nearby smelter. Mining operations were discontinued in 1953 and Clarkdale was incorporated in 1957.

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To find out more about Clarkdale, AZ and the interesting history of William Clark and how he built the company, the town, and the local economy, follow this link.