For a Western Movie fan like me, it was a no-brainer to pay a visit to Tombstone, the “mother of all western towns”, only 60 miles south of Tucson. Tombstone was the place of the famous OK Corral shootout between the Earp brothers and “Doc” Holliday on one side and some leading figures of the “Cowboys”, an infamous gang of cattle thieves and stage coach robbers, on the other side. Many of the original buildings, and of course the main street, are still there, although their purpose changed somewhat to tend to the needs of the tourists that nowadays are income-maker #1 for the town. In addition to browsing for souvenirs, we attended a re-enactment of the gunfight that is performed once daily.
The Earp brothers; the famous Wyatt is on the left side
…and their challengers
Tombstone’s main street
About 20 miles south of Tombstone is the historic mining town of Bisbee. From 1880 to 1975, copper was being mined here; until 1950 in an underground mine and the last 25 years additionally in an open pit. The open pit mining became feasible by the development of heavy mining and earth moving equipment, and actually helped keeping the entire mining operations afloat, because the underground mine alone was not profitable enough anymore.
Like elsewhere, open pit mining does never leave an attractive landscape behind, but in the case of Bisbee, it is particularly unpleasant because it’s so close to downtown.
Open pit copper mine in Bisbee, AZ
With the help of tourism, Bisbee flourishes now, but, of course, way less than at its peak times about 100 years ago.
Main street in Bisbee
The main tourist attraction in Bisbee is a tour of the underground mine which is offered several times daily.
Our tour guide was a great guy who actually worked in the mine until 1974, and he was able to tell us lots of little stories that filled the 1-hour tour with life and interest. In the picture above, he is explaining the use of that chest-like device, which actually was – the underground toilet. It’s interesting to note that the miners obviously didn’t mind using it in tandem…