Whether you are young or old a tour through Southern Arizona's famed old west will sure to please. The town of Bisbee is a wonderful combination of it's Victorian roots of a mining town turned eclectic artistian enclave to actors, dancers, and writers. The high elevation is a nice alternative to the low desert heat. Next on the tour heading west is Tombstone "the town too tough to die". many of Tombstone's historic buildings still stand and of course the OK Corral gun fight is reenacted daily except for major holidays. Watch one of the westerns about the Earp and Clanton Brothers before arriving to really get an appreciation of the history. After leaving Tombstone, again heading west, the road passes by the beautiful open space of Sonoita-with it's rolling hills and grasslands. This is definitely big sky country and the film Oklahoma was shot here. You'll also pass through the town of Elgin, Southern Arizona's wine country. You are now about 45 minutes to Tubac and after a day of exploring it's wonderful to arrive in Tubac at the Tubac Country Inn and just park the car and walk to dinner.
Bisbee was founded as a copper, gold, and silver mining town in 1880, and named in honor of Judge DeWitt Bisbee, one of the financial backers of the adjacent Copper Queen Mine.
In 1929, the county seat was moved from Tombstone, Arizona, to Bisbee, where it remains.
Mining in the Mule Mountains proved quite successful: in the early 20th century the population of Bisbee soared. Incorporated in 1902, by 1910 its population swelled to 9,019 and it sported a constellation of suburbs, including Warren, Lowell, and San Jose, some of which had been founded on their own (ultimately less successful) mines. In 1917, open pit mining was successfully introduced to meet the heavy copper demand due to World War I.
High quality turquoise was a by-product of the copper mining and has been promoted as Bisbee Blue. Bisbee is noted for the astounding variety of copper-based minerals and the superb specimens that have been taken from its mines. Bisbee specimens can be found in museums worldwide. Cuprite, aragonite, wulfenite, malachite, azurite, and galena are just a few of the myriad variety of minerals that have been found underneath the town.
Tombstone reached its pinnacle of riches and then faded, all within the short span of eight years. The West's wildest mining town owes its beginning to Ed Schieffelin, who prospected the nearby hills in 1877. Friends warned him that all he would ever find would be his own tombstone. But instead of an apache bullet, he found silver — ledges of it — and the rush was on.
Miners soon built a shantytown on the closest level space to the mines, then known as Goose Flats. Remembering the grim prophecy given to Schieffelin, and with tongue in cheek, they changed the name to Tombstone.
The year 1881 was an eventful one for the mining camp. The population reached 10,000, rivaling both Tucson (county seat) and Prescott (territorial capital). The Earp and Clanton feud culminated in the famous gunfight near the OK Corral. A disastrous fire burned out much of the infant town, but it was immediately rebuilt. Schieffelin Hall was erected to provide legitimate theater and a meeting hall for the Masonic Lodge.