Mining Towns, Bisbee, Arizona
Bisbee Mining Town
We visited Bisbee with the hope of exploring mining ruins, but were stopped short due to locked gates and law enforcement. There are open shafts and mining caves scattered throughout the town and a good amount of mining ruins in the surrounding hills that blanket Bisbee.
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. 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.
Mining decline and closure:
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.