Thursday, November 14, 2019

Douglas and Bisbee

Wednesday, November 13
Southeastern Arizona is incredibly rich in minerals so it's no surprise that mining and smelting were a large part of the history of this area. Two towns that were at the center of this mining era are Douglas and Bisbee. Both are located southeast of Huachuca City.

Douglas is on the Mexican border. It was the site of two copper smelters that operated from 1902 until 1987. The town itself was incorporated in 1905. Today the town is a tourist and trade center for the area. It has a colorful past with historical figures like Geronimo, Amelia Earhart, Poncho Villa and a host of Hollywood types gracing the streets of Douglas.

Ceiling inside the visitor center

Samples of copper smelted in Douglas.

Engine used to move ore cars.

The star attraction in Douglas these days is the famous Gadsden Hotel.

The front lobby. The hotel was built in 1907, destroyed by fire in 1927 and rebuilt the following year.

The grand stairway to the second floor. Note the stained glass windows.

The front desk.

The stained glass windows at the top of the stairs.

Very interesting story/legend about Pancho Villa riding his horse into the hotel and up the stairs.

The chip out of the stairs attributed to Panch Villa's horse.

You gotta read this! What history.

The elevator from 1907.

Shoe shine station and phone booths.

The Saddle and Spur Tavern. 

John Wayne used to buy rounds whenever he stopped in.

John Wayne's cattle brand. 26 Bar.

Cattle brands decorate the inside of the bar.

Lots of churches in downtown Douglas.

Douglas is a border town. Note the border wall on the left. Back in the late 1980's the Mexican Sinaloa Drug Cartel dug a tunnel from a building on the Mexican side to a building on the Douglas side. They used it to smuggle drugs. The Cartel has since moved on.

On the way out of town we spotted this drone landing at the airstrip.

The Mule Hills near Bisbee.

After a good look at Douglas we headed back up the highway about 20 miles to Bisbee.

Bisbee was founded as a copper, gold and silver mining town in 1880. By 1902 the town was incorporated and the population grew significantly. With World War I came an increased demand for copper and the huge open pit mines were developed. After the War demand gradually slowed and the quality of the ore declined so that in 1975 the mining operations closed. Bisbee has become a major artist and tourist destination. As the brochures state you can eat, drink and shop in Bisbee.

Colorful mineralization

This is the Sacramento Pit. It was the first to be dug. It was mined from 1917 - 1929.

There are lots of very narrow one-way streets in the mountainous town. After nearly wedging the truck into a couple of narrow lane ways we found a place on a larger street to park and wandered around the downtown.

Tight roads

The Copper Queen Hotel

Beautiful interior

Front desk at the Copper Queen

Open beams in the lobby.

An original church from the late 1880's.

Now those are BIG flies

Polished rock sample outside the museum.

One of the many breweries in town.

They have an excellent museum here and well worth the $7 admission. It looks at the history of the town and the lives of the townsfolk as well as the history of mining in the area. There are 300 different minerals found in the area which is 100 more than the second highest concentration of minerals. It is incredibly rich. Sometimes the miners would break through rock and into a cave that had beautiful crystals and minerals. Turquoise is found here that has a particular color not found elsewhere and is called Bisbee Blue.


Copper ore

Blue Azurite

Green Malachite

Various shades of Calcite

Gold strands in copper.

The criss-cross pattern is the old mine shafts that were exposed when they started the open pit operation.

The tings we depend on copper for .

Sculpture out side the museum

The tunnel through Mule Pass.

That was enough for one day. we headed back down the highway to Huachuca City. We'll find something to do tomorrow, I'm sure.
......and that was Our View From Here!


  1. Two towns with very unique history. We have been to Bisbee a couple of time but never to Douglas. The hotel there looks like it is worth the visit itself!

  2. We've never been to Douglas or Bisbee but can see we need to make a visit when we get that way! Beautiful pictures and an awesome tour!

  3. Another two places we have enjoyed visiting and are looking forward to revisiting again. Thanks for the pictures to bring back some good memories. Plus, we only sampled beer at one of those micro-breweries, so Take care.

  4. We enjoyed our time in Bisbee but have never been to Douglas, thanks for the tour.