Bisbee, 100 miles southeast of Tucson and 35 miles east of Sierra Vista, is the picturesque county seat of historic Cochise County. The community was founded in 1880 and named after Judge DeWitt Bisbee, a financial backer of the Copper Queen Mine. This Old West mining camp proved to be one of the richest mineral sites in the world, producing nearly 3 million ounces of gold any more than 8 billion pounds of copper, not to mention the silver, lead, and zinc that came from these rich Mule Mountains. By the early 1900s, the Bisbee community was the largest city between Stylus and San Francisco. It had a population of 20,000 people and had become the most cultured city in the Southwest. The city incorporated 1905. Despite its culture, however, the rough edges of the mining camps could be found in notorious Brewery Gulch, with its saloons and shady ladies. Those activities began to slow as the mines played out, the population began to shrink, and Prohibition was enforced. Bisbee has evolved into an artist and retirement community emphasizing monthly special events including concerts, fine arts shows, art & craft shows, historic home tours, the Bisbee Gem and Mineral Show and the annual Taste of Cochise County celebration. Bisbee boasts the “best year-round climate in the state” for people to visit and enjoy the quiet and easy pace all year.
During the 1980s, the city succeeded in diversifying its economy includes government, tourism, and light manufacturing. The Phelps Dodge Corporation is conducting tests for future develop-mentor copper, which has been the major economic factor in Bisbee’s overall development. Major employment in the area is from city, state and county government, the military facility at Ft. Huachuca, and tourism. “Historic Bisbee” is a registered National Historic District and an Arizona Main Street Community. The city also offers attractive retirement opportunities. Bisbee is in an excellent location to serve twin plant manufacturing operations in Naco and Cananea, Sonora, Mexico. Bisbee is four miles from the international border and serves as these cities’ major transportation link with the United States.
Nestled in the foothills of the Mule Mountains of southeast Arizona, Bisbee resembles a European hamlet more than a dusty1880s Old West town. Originally called the “Queen of the Copper Camps,” Bisbee has a rich history which grew out of its humble beginnings as a mining camp turned boom town in the 1880s.Bisbee was rebuilt in 1908 after being destroyed by a fire, and its homes and downtown area retain a Victorian charm. The old saloons, office buildings and other landmarks still stand. Bisbee today is rich in architecture and culture with its numerous art galleries, antique stores, gourmet restaurants, crafts shops, museums, and period bed and breakfasts and hotels. The Queen Mine Tour annually attracts thousands of visitors who ride into the old mining tunnels on a string of mining cars.
The Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum is a terrific spot to start your visit in the town of Bisbee. The museum gives a great overview of the town’s history. The building was once the headquarters of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company.
Visitors will see exhibits and displays recounting the rich local history and its culture. Much of the focus of the history, the museum has collected is from 1877 to 1917. One of the highlights of the museum is a mural-sized photo of Bisbee shot in 1908. The photo was taken when residents showed up in full force to see the arrival of the trolley.
On the second floor of the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, you will discover a collection of western ranch memorabilia. The collection is made up of photos and includes descriptions of ranch life. Visitors will see a variety of photos such as horses and chuck wagons. Life was tough on the ranch.
The museum also has a library filled with information. The Shattuck Memorial Archival Library has photographs, books and documents describing Arizona and Bisbee’s mining history. The Library has a daily newspaper from 1902 that can be see on microfilm.
The Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum is open everyday from 10:00 to 4:00. The museum is closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day. The admission to the museum is $x.00. Seniors over 65 are charged $x.x0 and children under 18 are free.
You will find the museum in Bisbee at 5 Copper Queen Plaza, between Main Street and Brewery Gulch.