Bisbee was founded as a copper, gold, and silver mining town in 1880, and named in honor of Judge DeWitt Bisbee, one of the financial backers of the adjacent Copper Queen Mine.
In 1929, the county seat was moved from Tombstone, Arizona, to Bisbee, where it remains.
Mining in the Mule Mountains proved quite successful: in the early 20th century the population of Bisbee soared. Incorporated in 1902, by 1910 its population swelled to 9,019 and it sported a constellation of suburbs, including Warren, Lowell, and San Jose, some of which had been founded on their own (ultimately less successful) mines. In 1917, open pit mining was successfully introduced to meet the heavy copper demand due to World War I.
High quality turquoise was a by-product of the copper mining and has been promoted as Bisbee Blue. Bisbee is noted for the astounding variety of copper-based minerals and the superb specimens that have been taken from its mines. Bisbee specimens can be found in museums worldwide. Cuprite, aragonite, wulfenite, malachite, azurite, and galena are just a few of the myriad variety of minerals that have been found underneath the town.
In 1917, the Phelps Dodge Corporation shipped more than 1,000 striking miners out of the town at gunpoint, because they were believed to be members of the Industrial Workers of the World and the company was trying to prevent unionization. They were transported to Hermanas, New Mexico. Earlier in that year of national labor unrest, in central Arizona, the Jerome Deportation took place.
By 1950, boom times were over and the population of the City of Bisbee had dropped to less than 6,000, but the introduction of open-pit mining and continued underground work would see the town escape the fate of many of its early contemporaries. However, in 1975 the Phelps Dodge Corporation finally halted its Bisbee copper-mining operations. The resulting exodus of mine employees might have been the end of the town. Phelps Dodge Corporation closed the Bisbee underground mines in the summer of 1975. Bisbee Mayor Chuck Eads, with the generous cooperation of Phelps Dodge, brought to reality the idea of opening a mine tour through a portion of the world-famous Copper Queen Mine. Mayor Eads felt that history of mining should be kept alive in Bisbee and in a manner that would attract tourists to the community. Many faithful volunteers cleared thousands of tons of fallen rock and re-timbered the old workings. They were assisted by local individuals and groups who furnished support and food for the workers. The local effort came to the attention of a federal agency, the Economic Development Administration, which approved a large grant to the City of Bisbee to help the mine tour project and other improvements in downtown Bisbee designed to aid the tourist business. The Queen Mine Tour was officially opened to visitors on February 1, 1976. Since then, more than a million visitors, from all 50 states and more than 30 foreign countries, have enjoyed the ride into the mountain on the underground mine tour train. Bisbee survived and remains as the county seat.
Toured the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum which offered a wonderful presentation starting on how things were in the 1880's up to the present.
We will be here at Tombstone Territories RV Resort until Friday then head to Tucson. Betty and I feel very much at home here and really are in no rush to go....we will be back!