Located in the Cochise County of Arizona, Bisbee Arizona is a town that came to be known for its mining of copper, gold, and silver in the 1800s, earning a befitting title of ‘Queen of the Copper Camps’. Named after Judge DeWitt Bisbee who was one of the owners of the neighboring Copper Queen Mine.
Bisbee’s location in the Mule Mountains made it a rich mining area, attracting miners from near and far and bumping up the town’s population. Passing years saw changes in mining techniques along with worker agitations, which eventually led to the decline of Bisbee as a mining town, both in terms of population and income.
Visiting Bisbee Arizona
Bisbee took to tourism to bring back to the town some of its lost wealth and fame. Keeping with the mining theme, Bisbee turned itself into a gem for mining tourism. Today Bisbee Arizona boasts of a flourishing cultural scene. It offers visitors a mix of art, history, architecture, dining, nightlife, and outdoor activities, along with the renowned Bisbee Queen Mine Tour.
Explore Bisbee Mining History
On the Bisbee Queen Mine Tour, visitors have the chance to delve into the fascinating history of this town and its mining past. On the tour, expect to look the part as visitors are dressed in a yellow slicker, with hard hats and a miner’s headlamp, as you venture into the underground to explore the mines of Bisbee Queen.
One of the main highlights of this tour are the guides who conduct them. Many of the guides are employees who used to work at the mines, and come equipped with every single thing there is to know about mining and its history in the area.
Down Into the Bisbee Queen Mine
Once dressed, hop on board the mine train that will descend down to a depth of 1500 feet. It doesn’t get more real than this. The guides share stories of what it was like working in the mines, what techniques were used, different metals and by-products that were mined, and the dangers they endured working in the mines.
The Bisbee Arizona Queen Mine tour turns out to be an extremely informative experience. The interesting nuggets of information shared by the guides make the whole experience special, more so since they all speak from tremendous experience, adding to the authenticity of the tour.
Bisbee Arizona Mine Tour Tickets
Bisbee Queen mining tours run every day, for a duration of one hour. They start from the Queen Mine Tour Building, which stands south of Old Bisbee’s Business District, off the US 80 Interchange. Tickets are only a few dollars and the tour is worth every penny. Children under five years are not allowed in the mine. Check the Bisbee Mine website for operating hours.
Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum
Once you have soaked in the ultimate mining experience aboard the Bisbee Queen Mine tour, it’s time to explore mining history further, with a visit to the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum. This Smithsonian affiliate museum tells visitors the in-depth history of this mining town and the county of Cochise, right from 1887, when Bisbee became a mining town.
Through the exhibits of the museum, get an understanding of how copper became a part of the life of Bisbee, along with how it was mined. Check out the minerals display as part of the exhibit too. Visit the Museum Store on your way out and pick up some cool souvenirs and books on mining to complete your experience at Bisbee. website. https://bisbeemuseum.org/bm-museum.aspx
Bisbee Arizona Lavender Pit
Another interesting site to check out while in town is the grand canyon of Bisbee, the Lavender Pit. Located adjacent to highway 80 this huge open pit was developed in 1950 to reach low-grade copper deposits. The pit is nearly 900 feet. Mining operations at the Lavender Pit ceased in 1974. There is a turnout with information boards that tell the story of the pit.
Where to Eat Bisbee AZ
After exploring the mine head to downtown Bisbee for some great food. The Quarry at 40 Brewery Ave serves up some great comfort food and in the evenings guest can enjoy live music that can be anything from jazz to punk rock. Jimmy’s Hot Dog Company at 938 W Hwy 92 is a great stop if you have kids along on this trip. The specialty at Jimmy’s is Chicago style hot dogs. Finally, there is the Bisbee Breakfast Club at 75 Erie Street Bisbee Arizona. Serving up breakfast all day long along with burgers and sandwiches.
Getting to Bisbee AZ
The town of Bisbee is 94 miles south of Tucson Arizona, about a 1.5-hour drive. If you are traveling from the Phoenix area plan on a three-hour drive. There are plenty of places to stay in Bisbee including several historic hotels that were built in the early 1900s.