Bisbee AZ nestled in the Mule Mountains was founded in 1880 and became one of the richest mineral sites in the world. Producing nearly 3 million ounces of gold and more than 8 billion pounds of copper, not to mention silver, lead and zinc by the early 1900’s Bisbee mining made it the largest city between St. Louise and San Francisco. The last mine closed down in 1975 and the town started to empty and decline, until free spirits and artists flowed in and revitalized this quaint historic town.
Ed and I have had a blast wondering around the warren of streets and stairs of this delightful and quirky town. Having been built on the sides of mountains many of the homes were originally accessed via mule paths. During the Great Depression the WPA (Work Projects Administration) built steps where these pathways were. Now there are stairs EVERYWHERE and so folks here being clever, this year will be the 25th anniversary of the Bisbee 1000 – the Annual Great Bisbee Stair Climb, oh and participants actually do climb 1,034 steps!! Ed and I did maybe 400 plus over 3 days!
There is art everywhere in this town, good, bad, beautiful and ugly. All of the stairways in the climb have paintings at the beginning with the number of steps and which number the location is for the run. Blank walls all over town are canvases with community murals, master artist paintings and general graffiti. There’s public sculpture and private. Most yards and/or homes have decorative features, clever “junk” and or paintings. Even house numbers and sewer covers are artistic.
There’s OK food, good food and great food offered in small spots and large. There’s a local brewery making wonderful beer. There’s music both in establishments and just common areas. There are a ton of art galleries. And, there is a copper mine tour which is lead by former miners who worked the Queen mine. All of it by Washington DC metro area standards – inexpensive. WE LOVE BISBEE!! Put it on your MUST VISIT list!