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Bisbee ~ Not just an Old Mining Town

Posted by on April 2, 2014
View of Bisbee

View of Bisbee from RV park

This is our third trip to Bisbee.  Bisbee is located in the mile high Mule Mountains in SE Arizona in Cochise County.   Here’s a town that might not be at the top of your list as a getaway place. But I’m here to tell you, a weekend in this little hamlet will not only entertain and feed you, but you will leave with great memories and a smile on your face.  Where else could you reserve a night or two in a Vintage Airstream Trailer, or  spend the night in the historic Old County Jail? And don’t overlook a Spa treatment with Dr. Feelgood!  Stop at the Silver King Hotel and enjoy a beverage at the smallest bar in Arizona. Instead of a tour bus to show you the sights, after breakfast, trek up the 1000 stairs leading thru the most colorful parts of Bisbee.   If you are in an RV, reserve a spot at the Queen Mine RV Park and sit atop the hill with the best view of Bisbee and its first copper mine.

Shady Dell sign

 

Shady Dell Trailer park

The Shady Dell, Vintage Trailers instead of a Hotel

 

The Queen Mine tour is by the the most visited attraction in Bisbee. Put on a hard hat, a yellow rain slicker and board the train that will take you 1500 feet down into the mine. The Mine was the most productive Copper mine in Arizona in the early 1900’s. This tour is well worth the $13.00 ($5.50 for kids)

Bisbee’s Queen Mine was one of the richest copper mines in history. The mine opened in 1877 and eventually closed when Phelps Dodge discontinued mining operations in Bisbee in the mid–1970’s. The Queen Mine opened once again as a tour for visitors in 1976, nearly 100 years after the mine originally opened.

Approximately 50,000 people a year visit the Queen Mine

 

The Copper Mine

The Lavender Pit

Peeking through the fence at the Lavender Pit.

Peeking through the fence at the Lavender Pit.

Downtown Bisbee

 

Bisbee, Arizona!  The largest City between St. Louis and San Francisco in the early 1900’s, Imagine that!

In 1908 the commercial district was destroyed in a fire. By 1910 most of this district was rebuilt and remains completely intact today.

Historic Bisbee

 

Today, in my opinion, Bisbee is a town with European Charm, it is Artsy, Colorful and Pet friendly.  Enjoy the many boutiques, Bed and breakfast Inns, quaint Historic hotels, and great restaurants.  The Smallest Bar in Arizona is found up in historic Brewers Gulch.  It is located inside the Silver King Hotel. Seating for 4.

Arizona's smalest Bar

 

This town is not just a sleepy old mining town. They have many activities and events throughout the year to bring in the crowds. One such event happens each OCTOBER. Bisbee hosts the “BISBEE 1000”  this will be the 23rd year.  It’s been called a Race, A Home Tour, A Costume Ball, A Music Festival, A Party and a Community Celebration. Whatever you call it, call it Fun!  

The Bisbee 1000 Stair Climb is a five kilometer run through Bisbee that goes up and down 1,034 stairs. Because much of Old Bisbee is built among the hills of the Mule Mountains, many of the houses can’t be reached by car. Billed as “The most unusual physical fitness challenge in the USA!” by the organizers, it includes being serenaded by musicians at various locations among the stairs. The event has grown to include the Ice Man Competition, designed to honor the history of men delivering blocks of ice by hand before the advent of refrigeration. In the Ice Man Competition, entrants race up 155 steps carrying a ten-pound block of ice with antique ice tongs.

We were there the end of March, so we didn’t get to experience the fun and excitement of that event; however, in celebration of the Bisbee 1000, we set out one afternoon to follow the map of this race.  Bisbee, you see, is situated on a rather steep hillside. It is connected by very narrow roads and cement stairways.  I wouldn’t want to be a Mail Carrier in this town.  It would be a grueling task each day.  So we started from the south end and ended at the north side and by that time we headed straight for Santiago’s Mexican Restaurant for a Cold margarita.  After the daunting task of climbing up down and around the stairways of Bisbee,  My Fitbit™ really worked overtime today.

 

Bisbee 1000 sign

Stairway #9

Arizona-0019

Stairway #5

More Photos of the Stair Trails Click on one to see full view.

 

Santiagos Mexican Restaurant not only has great food but makes the best fresh fruit margaritas, and a table side preparation of their famous guacamole dish. Grab a window seat in the bar area for some serious people watching.

 

Fresh Mango Margarita

Fresh Mango Margarita

 

 

WHITEWATER DRAW WILDLIFE REFUGE

 

Whitewater draw is located on the Highway toward Wilcox. Take 80 out of Bisbee to W Double Adobe Rd,  Then Left on N Central, Left on Bagby Road and follow the signs to the Refuge. Water is very low right now. We did see a herd of about 18 deer, several species of birds and some ducks while we were there.  Looked for the Owls but they didn’t want to be seen today.  No bats in the Bat houses either, guess they are still hibernating somewhere else.

You can camp here overnight at no charge and if we had more days, we might have done that. We will remember this location for next time, especially when it is a wetter winter.

 

Pair of Malard ducks in flight

Click for larger photo in this gallery:

 

Just south of Bisbee is the historic town of LOWELL, Arizona.

Lowell was at one time a sizable mining town located just to the southeast of Old Bisbee. The majority of the original townsite was consumed by the excavation of the Lavender Pit mine during the 1950s. All that is left today is a small portion of Erie Street, along with Evergreen Cemetery, Saginaw subdivision and Lowell Middle School. These days Lowell is considered by most of the local residents to be more of a place-name than an actual community.

Stroll down Erie Street and you will not only see the historic buildings with classic architecture; but many of them are still being used today.  What was especially cool were the classic cars, motorcycles and the Greyhound bus parked on the street as permanent fixtures.

Here are a few of the photos from Erie Street:

Gulf Oil sign Lowell az

Click Gallery for Larger Image:

 

A little further down the road toward Naco, watch for a Mustard Yellow building with a Giant Hot dog on top. That will be the famous JIMMY’S HOTDOG Company.  A hot dog stand… simple looking from the outside and we almost missed this one.  But one day, we were in the mood for a good Chicago Dog. What a gem, not on the south side of Chicago but the south side of Bisbee!  This is BY FAR, the best Chicago Style Hot Dog we have ever eaten! It’s not just about hot dogs here either, try the Fish Combos and you’ll think you were on the coast somewhere. Wash it all down with a bottle of Mexico Coke.  Do not pass this place by. It’s a 5 Star Hotdog Restaurant which has been featured in Gourmet magazine (2006) as the “Best Traditional Hot dog served in the United States.”  Guy Fieri you have somehow missed this place!

 

photo 4

photo 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we were touring the area we came across something that interested me.  Again those of you who know me, know why this “Garden Of Citroëns” might cause me to jump out of the jeep on a busy road to have a look!

A Garden Of Citroens

A Garden of Citroens

Then just a few blocks down the road I did a double take as we drove past this mechanics garage.

Which is Fake

One of these is a painting

 

The Queen Mine RV Park is where we stayed for 6 days.  This park is the only RV park right in Bisbee and it sits on a tall knoll just above the Queen Mine.  Reservations are a must for this spot.  You can walk a short distance to Historic Bisbee.

Queen Mine RV Park Sign

 

 

 

 

Now we are off to ROPER LAKE State Park, near Safford, Arizona

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