Saturday, May 15, 2010

Third Post on our Trip to Arizona

After we finished exploring the Kartchner Cavern we decided to explore a few other areas as well. Amoung those areas was Bisbee.

Bisbee was kind of interesting in many ways. It was a town that had applied for and recieved the Preserve America Grant that is offerred by the federal government for helping towns that are in trouble financially. With the help of this grant Bisbee became a Main Street Town. The town is "dressed up" like an old town from the thirties with brick facades and white trim.

This History of Bisbee was copied from Bisbee's Visitor Center site: Bisbee was founded in 1880 and named after Judge DeWitt Bisbee, a financial backer of the Copper Queen Mine. Once known as “the Queen of the Copper Camps”, this Old West mining camp 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 Mule Mountains. By the early 1900s, the Bisbee community was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco.

Bisbee, with a population of over 20,000 people in the early 1900’s, had become one of the most cultured cities in the Southwest. Despite its culture, however, the rough edges of the mining camps could be found in notorious Brewery Gulch, with its saloons and shady ladies. Brewery Gulch, which in its heyday boasted upwards of 47 saloons and was considered the "liveliest spot between El Paso and San Francisco". Bisbee offered other recreational pursuits in that it was home to the state’s first community library, a popular opera house, the state’s oldest ball fields and the state’s first golf course.

In 1908, a fire ravaged most of Bisbee's commercial district along Main Street, leaving nothing but a pile of ashes, but the residents of Bisbee quickly began reconstruction and by 1910, most of the district had been rebuilt and remains completely intact today.

Bisbee was a thriving community until the large scale mining operations became unprofitable in the mid 1970’s. As mining employees left to go elsewhere, many artistic free spirits found Bisbee an ideal, attractive, and inexpensive location to settle and pursue their artistic endeavors. The small town's legacy has long been preserved not only in its architecture and mining landscape, but is world-renowned for its diverse minerals and wealth of copper. Although its mines closed in the 70s, a museum has welcomed, educated and entertained more than a half-million visitors ever since. Featured among its exhibits is "Bisbee: Urban Outpost on the Frontier", an in-depth look at the depths - and heights - to which miners and settlers went to carve a community and a living out of rock.

All in All, Bisbee was one of the busiest places we saw in Arizona. We only witnessed two empty storefronts in the entire town and the rest of the shops seemed busy with people coming and going. It was a fun place to visit and I am looking forward to visiting it again.

Bisbee is a long way from Whidbey Island.

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