Travel to Bisbee to discover a charming, historic southwest American town, where time has stood still. It is a real hidden gem.
The town of Bisbee, located 25 minutes south of Tombstone and about 1-1/2 hours from Tucson, is at the foot of Mule Mountain. As you enter town, an enormous open-pit copper mine appears on your right side. Take the first right to stop for a better view of the mine and then step into the another dimension.
Walking down Erie Street of this well-preserved historic area is like stepping through a time warp into the 1950s, with its vintage cars, stores and gas station. Several films have been made at this location because it makes a wonderful backdrop. This is Bisbee’s Lowell neighbourhood. Lowell was originally a town, but it was mostly destroyed by the expansion of the open-pit copper mine.
Continue heading down the hill to the end of Erie Street, turn left into the main area of Bisbee and its charms starts to unfold. Bisbee, once known as the “Queen of Copper Camps”, is now becoming a popular haven for creative artists. The Main Street is Old Bisbee. This historic downtown area boasts fine Victorian architecture.
There are plenty of shops and galleries to explore as you journey uphill through this very walkable town. There is a good variety of places to choose from for lunch or dinner.
Top 10 things to do in Bisbee
Historic Downtown Bisbee: An area of fine Victorian architecture, shops and galleries.
Bisbee Historic Stairs: The lack of flat land in the Bisbee area made it necessary for people to build their homes on the hillsides above the canyon. A series of wooden steps built up the steep canyon walls allowed access to these houses. Concrete steps replaced the wooden ones in the 1930s. Can you image having to climb up and down 200 steps to get to your home?
The Brewery Gulch: At one time, this area had 50 saloons in operation and numerous brothels. There are still a number of historic bars. The St. Almos Bar (where many locals go) is the longest operating bar in Arizona.
Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum: Take an in-depth look at the history of the town’s mining.
Copper Queen Library: The three-story high arches are a prominent feature of the first library in Arizona.
The Bisbee Seance Room: A one hour theatrical performance, raising Bisbee ghosts in a Victorian parlor.
Queen Mine Tour: This one hour tour takes you underground on a mine train to explore the history of the mine. Reservations should be made.
Ghost Tours: An after dark tour of the historic area, stairways and alleys. Reservations are suggested.
Visit one of the many art galleries
Museum Heritage House: This restored home is of late 19th century architecture and is a registered National Historic site. It also provides a panoramic view of the area.
- Bisbee was known as “Queen of the Copper Camps”
- The city began in 1902
- 25,000 people once lived here
- Bisbee is 8 miles north of the Mexican border
- In 1975, the mining operations closed after almost 100 years of production
- The mine produced:
- 8 billion pounds of copper
- 102 million ounces of silver
- 2.8 million ounces of gold
- Millions of pounds of zinc, lead and manganese
- 8 billion pounds of copper
- “Bisbee Blue” a high quality turquoise was a by-product of the copper mine
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