It’s hard to believe it’s been 137 years since Bisbee’s “discovery.” Originally known as Mule Gulch, after the main east-west canyon, the area was frequented by Apaches and the soldiers chasing them, but it wasn’t till the summer of ’77 that someone found something worthwhile. Those folks grubstaked George Warren to come back and file more claims, which he did, though not to the benefit of the original discoverers.
George had a long and colorful history in Mule Gulch and (after 1880) Bisbee until his death in 1893. A drunk he was throughout this time, but a great story-teller and a legend in his own time. The most colorful George Warren tale took place in Charleston, near Tombstone, where he bet he could outrun a horse. He bet his interest in the Copper Queen mining claim — and lost. Had he won, he would have gotten a pretty fine horse.
George Warren fares better in death
George did much better after he died — sounds like an artist — it seems. His iconic photo, taken by the locally famous C.S. Fly, became the model for the miner on the Arizona State Seal, and a monument of some stature was erected at Evergreen Cemetery. The mining district at Bisbee was named for him, as was the community planned and built nearby after the turn of the century.
And more recently, Bisbee-born sculptor Don Cox was commissioned by another Bisbee native, Jim Warne, to create a newer monument to the man. Two copies exist, one at the Arizona capitol (which also has George, in the State Seal, permanently inlaid into the floor) and one at the Cochise County offices in the San Jose area.
Lavender Jeep Tours takes its visits to Evergreen Cemetery on both the Greater Bisbee and Mining Landscape tours. Visitors also get to see the suburb of Warren, which — in all truth — would have been anathema to ole George. It would have been too boring, since there were never any bars in the town.
With all of his faults, perhaps because of them, Warren was representative of Bisbee so many years ago, when so many lived the rugged life, always searching for their fortunes, but living in a way that was almost guaranteed to keep them impoverished. Yet they built an enduring copper camp, and a state, through their struggles.
That is why George has become a legend.