Today, we drove to Bisbee, AZ. One of the reasons we wanted to visit Bisbee is to see the ton that is the setting for many novels written by the author J.A. Jance. Jance's main character in many of her novels is a female sheriff of Cochise County. Bisbee is the county seat of Cochise County.
Bisbee was founded as a mining town (copper, gold, and silver) in 1880. The main attraction in town is the Copper Queen Mine. Started in 1915, the mine ceased active operations in the summer of 1975. The then mayor brought the idea of a mining tour as a way to help the town survive the loss of mining jobs. In February, 1976, the mine started taking its first tourists.
We decided to take the tour since we were in town. News came out in August of this year that the mine is in danger of being closed because of the levels of radon that have been detected in the mine. According to published reports "Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that cannot be seen, tasted or smelled, can be found in any underground mine that has subsurface granite rock. Radon decays into particles that stick to surfaces, such as airborne dust particles which when breathed in, in high amounts, can stick to lung tissue increasing the risk of lung cancer." The doses received by the public is considered insignificant, but the continued exposure of the tour guides put them at risk. The mine may have to be closed while a "fix" is worked out.
After paying our money, we were decked out with yellow rain slickers, hard hat and miner lamps. We boarded a train and headed into the mine. Our tour guide was a miner who worked the copper mines from 1959 until it was closed. He offered some truly interesting insight and color into our tour.
After eating lunch in Bisbee, we headed back up the highway to Tombstone, AZ. Tombstone is most famous because of the historic Gun Fight at the OK Corral. Town Marshall Virgil Earp and his brothers, Morgan and Wyatt along with Doc Holliday had a 30 second gun battle with outlaw cowboys Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury. After the shooting stopped, Billy Clanton and both of the McLaury's were dead and Morgan and Virgil were wounded. Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne ran from the fight.
We did visit the BootHill Graveyard. Lots of gravemarkers are there and a lot of them show deaths occuring in 1881 and 1882. It is obvious that Tombstone was a violent town in its heyday! The are approximately 300 people buried in BootHill.
I was a bit disappointed in the town. It is all about separating the tourist from his money. There were no gunfights in the street - those are behind walls that you have to pay to see. Likewise, a staged bank heist costs money to see. Oh well, we had seen "gunfights" other places for nothing!