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?”

Seeing the rainbow from above

Looking down on rainbow from Juniper FlatsLooking down on a rainbow isn’t a common occurrence, but it was the view today from Juniper Flats, as rain danced all around the Mules.

God gave Noah the rainbow, we are told, as a covenant that He never again would destroy the earth by floods.

Today what I wondered was this: When he got that message, was Noah still atop Mt. Ararat, looking down on the rainbow, as we were today? Perhaps a rainbow is a rainbow, but a change in perspective certainly can encourage one to ponder new ideas.

The Sky Island Tour up Juniper Flats is like that. It continually offers to me news visions of the world. It’s a great retreat from computers, crowds, even the desert. Give me a call when you’re ready to take that trip.

Yep, we like dogs!

Lavender Jeep dog friendly
Doodles makes himself at home with the rest of the family in the Lavender Jeep. He had good things to say about the tour.

Lavender Jeep Tours are dog-friendly. we have entertained a number of clients who have taken their dogs for a ride around Bisbee, both little ones in backpacks and big ones that kept their feet warm.

(Should note that our base of operations, the Copper Queen Hotel, is dog-friendly as well. You can drink or dine on its saloon patio with your pup.)

So don’t let Fido stop you from enjoying a run through the canyons or up on the mountain. He’ll enjoy the smells as much as you enjoy the view and narrative.

And no, we don’t charge for Fido.

The Jeff Milton – Jack Greenway connection

By Gary Dillard

One of the things I like about giving tours of Bisbee for Lavender Jeep Tours is that I’m constantly learning more about the town. Just as when I dig into old newspapers and other historical sources.

Jeff Milton
A young Jeff Milton

During the Greater Bisbee tour and the Mining Landscape tour, I drive visitors down Cole Avenue, past Greenway School and the Greenway House and talk a bit about Jack and Isabella Greenway. I know quite a bit about Jack, the engineer and manager of the Calumet & Arizona Mining Co. interests, but I did not know that he was a good friend of famous lawman Jeff Milton. Tonight I was poring over old newspapers searching for information about Willis Woods, an escapee from the Tombstone jail and a “general bad man.”

More bad men

I found linked to him another bad man named Colney Musgrave, more of a wannabe bad man, but brother of George Musgrave, one-time member of the Black Jack Ketchum gang, which from the late 1890s till about 1910 plundered at will in New Mexico and Arizona, as well as some in Texas and elsewhere. Continue reading “The Jeff Milton – Jack Greenway connection”

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”

What are all the yellow sandbags around Bisbee for?

By Gary Dillard

One aspect of Bisbee which I point out to our riders is the proliferation of yellow sandbags around town, with an explanation of the history and process.

Freeport soil cleanupBisbee had a smelter between 1880 and 1903, located where the Queen Mine Tour is today. As well as putting out gases, it emitted particulates. (Later, smelters would be able to install electrolytic precipitators to removed these solids from the gas stream, both because of their value and for health considerations.) Some of these particulates were heavy metals, such as lead, and some of them settled into the local soil.

Smelter emissions weren’t the only cause of lead in the soil. House paint used to contain lead as well, and every time someone scraped the paint off into the yard, the lead remained in the soil. Nevertheless, a few years ago, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. began its local soil program, testing all of the soil in greater Bisbee. Where metals were found to be above a certain threshhold, the company has dug up the soil, disposed of it, replaced it with clean soil and planted it to prevent erosion. Continue reading “What are all the yellow sandbags around Bisbee for?”