Bisbee history is rich and exciting

By Gary Dillard

Bisbee history is unbelievably rich and diverse. From progressive women to murderous men, from a Democrat stronghold to the power behind the Bull Moose party. From great wealth and political power to a back seat in state governance, Bisbee has it all.

Dozens, hundreds, thousands of stories. You can dig as deep as you want and always find more. Much like its fabulous ore bodies.

It has several “founding dates:” The original discoverers filed the first mining claim in the summer of 1877; it got a name and a post office in 1880; and it was incorporated in 1902. Each date is important.

It had (at least) three major booms: mid-1880s, turn of the 20th century, and mid-20th century. Again, each boom brought significant changes and new residents with new ideas and renewed creativity. (So, too, with its near-demise in the late 1970s.)

Slow growth

Tombstone was a silver-mining camp, and though it was discovered at the same time as Bisbee, it boomed faster and became the county seat when Cochise County was carved out of Pima County in 1881. That left Bisbee with a local jail, for example, that was just a holding cell, and trials for area crimes were held in Tombstone. Continue reading “Bisbee history is rich and exciting”

Where is it cool in Arizona?

bisbee in the cool summer rainGo north to get cool, say the denizens of Arizona’s urbs. In Tucson, it’s up Mt. Lemon. In Phoenix, it’s up to the Rim.

After all, south is hot! Not! Not always, at least.

Bisbee, with its mile-high elevation, has average high/low temps in June of 89/59, while Payson, up on the Mogollon Rim where Zane Grey once rode, is 88/51. Not a lot of difference. In July, the numbers are 87/62 for Bisbee and 91/59 for Payson, after the rains start. (Here’s the source for these figures.)

The summer rains don’t just cool things off in Bisbee. No, no, no. They add a beautiful dimension to the scenery as well. The thunderheads often start in the valley below the city and come right up into the canyons, a-flashin’ and a-roarin’ and dropping the temperature 20 degrees or so within minutes, while soaking and cooling folks who are out in the streets dancing, ’cause they can. Okay, perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but we’ve given rainy-day tours, in our open Jeeps, to folks from Phoenix who dearly love getting a soaking. Because they can’t get it at home. Continue reading “Where is it cool in Arizona?”

New mural going in at City Park

New mural at City Park
New mural coming at City Park. Monti Eaton, the artist, shows off a sketch of what it will look like.

As we were heading around City Park today, on Taylor Avenue, we were hailed by Monti Eaton, who was at the top of the step-seating at the park. “You’ll soon have something new to add to your tour,” he said.

In honor of the upcoming centennial celebration of “Cement Park” in May, he is putting in a new mural on the concrete of the west wall. It will cover the front of the benches, but not the tops, and the wall above the benches, so that the images will be complete from across the park. Continue reading “New mural going in at City Park”

George Warren still defines Bisbee, 137 years later

Jim Warne, Jan Brewer, George Warren
Patron Jim Warne presents Don Cox’ bronze sculpture of George Warren to Gov. Jan Brewer on statehood day (Feb. 14) 2013.

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.

Don Cox' sculpture of George Warren
This is the sculpture at the Cochise County Board of Supervisors’ office, if you want to stop by and take a look.

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. Continue reading “George Warren still defines Bisbee, 137 years later”