Bisbee Arizona

Writing on the Treehouse Wall

In the late 1870’s a man by the name of Lt. Dunn was out on a scouting mission against the Apache Indians. While in this detail he came across some interesting rocks, which he collected and took to a prospector by the name of George Warren. With Dunn unable to stake a claim due to his military duties Warren and Dunn became partners. It wasn’t long until Warren had a change of heart and he got some new partners and some new claims leaving Dunn out of the deal.

With more and more individuals staking claims it wasn’t long before the big companies came in to buy up the smaller claims to bring them into production. In the 1880’s Bisbee began producing copper in small quantities. Phelps Dodge Corporation, through a subsidiary of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company, soon became the sole operator of the mining in Bisbee. And with its base in Bisbee Phelps Dodge became one of the largest producers of copper in the United States.

With almost 100 years of continuous production the mines closed down in 1975. But in that time frame Bisbee mines are estimated to have produced metals valued at $6.1 billion (in 1975 standards) one of the largest production values of all the mining districts in the world. It took almost a century but Bisbee was able to produce 8,032,352,000 lbs. of copper, 2,871,786 ounces of gold, 77,162,986 ounces of silver, 304,627,600 lbs. of lead and 731,945,900 lbs. of zinc!

Not only did Bisbee produce massive amounts of metals, Bisbee is also well known for its high quality turquoise known as Bisbee Blue. However the Bisbee Blue turquoise isn’t the only by-product of the copper mining. Bisbee is also noted for producing some of the most beautifully astounding copper –based minerals and specimens. These specimens can be found in museums around the world. Some of the minerals that have been found under Bisbee include cuprite, aragonite, wulfenite, malachite, azurite, and galena.

But with the mines closing down in 1975 the beautiful town of Bisbee was in danger of becoming another mining ghost town. But with its picturesque views and temperate climate Bisbee was soon flooded with artists and hippies. And then in the 1990’s baby boomers discovered Bisbee and brought with them a more polished look. Today the original town of Bisbee is known as “Old Bisbee” and is a thriving cultural scene visited by floods of tourists each year.

One of the biggest tourist attractions in Bisbee is the old Copper Queen Mine. When the mines were shut down in the 70’s the town quickly jumped in and renovated the old mine. The volunteers cleared thousands of tons of rock and repaired the old timber. These volunteers received assistance from local individuals and groups who furnished support and food for the workers. And in 1976 the Copper Queen Mine Tour was officially open for business. Since then, more than a million visitors, from all 50 states and more than 30 foreign countries, have enjoyed a ride onto the mountain to get a brief glimpse of the world of mining.



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