Kartchner Caverns, Queen Copper mine, Fairbanks
While the Caverns were great, I am unable to share the sights, as no cameras or phones were allowed in the cavern. In terms of public access, these caverns are relatively new. They opened around the year 2000, after being discovered in 1974 by two cavers – Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts - then kept secret for 14 years while they and the property owners figured out how to protect the caves. The property was eventually sold to the State of Arizona in 1988 for development as a park and show cavern. Eleven years and $28 million later, the caverns were opened to the public. These caverns are considered “live” caverns, as water is still dripping into the caves and affecting change – however slowly. Also, the caverns are host to a colony of about 1000 bats who nest here 6 months in the summer to give birth and raise their young. During this time, the caverns are closed.
Entrance into and out of the cavern area is accomplished via a series of airtight doorways and passages, which allows the internal air to remain stable. Also, the pathway and exhibit lighting is controlled by each tour guide as we pass through the caverns, which helps minimize heating of the air by the lights.
Oh, the tour guide said 100 different invertebrates have been found in the caves – primarily in and around the guano. Fourteen of these 100 are new discoveries to science.
Queen Copper Mine – Bisbee
Well, I needed to return to Bisbee for another underground adventure, this time a mine. The Queen Copper Mine was another great tour with much more explained and viewed than the silver mine in Tombstone. We rode a little trolley a total distance of 1500 feet into the mine, and our gentleman tour guide had actually worked underground for eight years, so he was well versed in “Mineology.” It was interesting to learn a little more of the process of drilling and blasting and the use of the equipment.
More info with the pictures.
On my way home, I detoured a short distance to an old town site called Fairbank, took a walk through the riparian zone and visited the old graveyard, which has pretty much been left to nature for the past 100 years or so. When visiting these areas, it’s always difficult to imagine what they would have been like in their hay day.
“In a cavern, in a canyon, Excavating for a mine, Dwelt a miner, ‘Forty-Niner, And his daughter Clementine”. – Percy Montrose