Bisbee Arizona – Mining history, stairs galore and quaint inns

Bisbee, Arizona MuseumIf you want to experience a bit of the old west, head to southern Arizona. You’ll be surprised when you see Bisbee. It is one of those unique Arizona mining towns that has evolved over the years. Once a thriving copper mining town, Bisbee is now home to retirees and artists. Bisbee is full of historic buildings and homes and interesting rambling hillside streets. Add in a ghost or two and you’ll find that Bisbee an ideal place to spend a week or a weekend.

History
Bisbee was founded in 1880 and named after Judge DeWitt Bisbee, a financial backer of the Copper Queen Mine. In the early 1900s, Bisbee was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco with a population of 20,000 people.

Mining operations became unprofitable by the 1970’s and mining operations decreased significantly. Yes, there is still copper mining in the area, but the old Copper Queen Mine is now a place to visit.

Places to Stay and Eat in Bisbee

Dining – There are two places in Bisbee that come highly recommended. For a drink and appetizers or a delightful dinner, go to Cafe Roka. It is a gathering place for savvy locals as well as visitors. The food is excellent. For breakfast, you must try The Bisbee Breakfast Club in the Lowell section of town. It’s usually very busy and there is a good reason – fantastic food and friendly people.

Accomodations – All the places to stay in Bisbee have character. From the Old Copper Queen Hotel to the Schoolhouse Inn, each place is unique. I have stayed at the Copper City Inn and found it to be a delightful combination of old Bisbee and new conveniences. I loved sitting on the huge veranda watching the world go by. The Copper City Inn is located is located on the quiet end of the Bisbee, Arizona historic business district, nestled into the side of Tombstone Canyon. You can walk into the central area from the Inn.

Things to do in Bisbee

Bisbee Museum – To get a sense of the importance of mining to the history of Bisbee, start at The Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum. You’ll enjoy some hands on exhibits that will take you back over 100 years. You’ll find out about mining life in Bisbee and gain an appreciation for this rough and tumble town out in the middle of nowhere. Once you enjoy the museum, you will be ready to step outside and walk this historic town.

Copper Queen Mine ToursThe Copper Queen Mine tours are a must-do when you are in Bisbee. The tours will take you underground into the mine.on a historic mine train. You’ll find the tours, and the mine, immediately south of Old Bisbee’s business district. When I took the tour, our group was led by a retired miner who had actually worked in the Copper Queen Mine.

Walking– The best way to enjoy Bisbee is to walk the streets and stairways. You can do it on your own but The Bisbee Visitor’s Center has walking and driving tours for all interests.Bisbee, Arizona Museum
 Climb the stairs, explore the shops and you’ll get quite a work out!

Annual Bisbee Stair Climb – For those who want a bit of a challenge, head in to Bisbee in late October for the annual Bisbee 1000 Stair Climb event. The Bisbee1000 event requires you to use any combination of walking, running and resting to traverse nine sets of steps and numerous back-roads at a mile-high altitude. Proceeds go to help Bisbee save their historic stairs.

Shopping
– You’ll want to wander the historic streets and stop in at the shops and galleries. Bisbee has quite an artists’ colony and the shops reflect this creativity. Shop for antiques, souvenirs and western wear. If you are lucky you’ll pick up a piece of Bisbee turquoise jewelry.

More Information:
Bisbee Visitors Center

Photo Credit: Elizabeth R. Rose

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