Bisbee was once known as the Queen of the Copper Camps. Rich ore was discovered in 1877 at what was to become the Copper Queen Mine, but it wasnít until a smelter was built in 1880 that it became profitable. In 1881, James Douglas, a metallurgist and geologist hired by eastern speculators to evaluate western mining properties, convinced Phelps-Dodge, a New York-based import-export company, to go into the mining business. They bought 51% of the Copper Queen. The Copper Queen wasnít the only major mine in town; the Calumet and Arizona Mining company also struck it rich in an area only two by three miles on the surface (but 4,000 feet deep). The mines closed in the 1970s. By that time, $6.1 billion in gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc had been mined out in the area, as had a huge gaping hole in the ground where once Sacramento Hill stood.
The main street of Bisbee today still has an early 1900ís feel to it. The Copper Queen Hotel, which was built in 1902, sits up on the hillside overlooking the old Phelps-Dodge office building, which now houses the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum.
Bisbee offers the rare opportunity to go into a mine--Queen Mine Tour.
Trails and Treasures Home Page Journey to the American Southwest 2003