History of Bisbee
Bisbee was founded in 1880 and it was named after Judge DeWitt Bisbee who was financial backer of the Copper Queen Mine.
Nevertheless, Bisbee was a typical mining town with a notorious Brewery Gulch. teeming with saloons and shady ladies. In its heyday the Gulch boasted more than 47 saloons.
The Brewery Gulch burned in 1908 and had to be completely re-built. Most of the district was reconstructed by 1910 and those very buildings are the ones you see there today.
As the mines were depleted, the population began to shrink. Mining operations on such a grand scale became unprofitable.
However, as mining employees left to go elsewhere, many artistic free spirits found Bisbee to be an attractive and inexpensive location to settle. Here they could easily focus on their artistic endeavors.
The small town’s legacy has been well preserved.
Visit the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, the West’s first rural Smithsonian Institute affiliate. You can learn more about life on Bisbee’s “Urban Frontier” – an in-depth look at the depths and heights that miners and settlers went to in order to carve a communtiy and a living out of rock. The mines closed in the ’70s, however, the small town’s legacy was preserved, both its architecture and mining landscape.
You can also stop in at the historic Muheim House which is important as an outstanding example of 19th century architecture and elegance. It’s registered as a National Historic site. It was built by Joseph and Carmelita Muheim in 1898 and only completed in 1915. You can take a guided tour through the interior and see all it’s period furniture. From the museum there is a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and hillside homes on Brewery Gulch.
Bisbee Restoration Museum is run by the Bisbee Restoration Association. The museum is free. It’s located in the Fair Store building on historic Main Street. The museum has many items connected with the community’s early history of mining and ranching. There is also a gift shop on the main floor. Although admission is free, donations are always welcome.
The world-famous Queen Mine Tour is a fascinating experience of the underground world of the miners who had carved their lives, their community and a living out of bedrock. This was one of the most productive copper mines of the 20th century. You have the opportunity to wear mining lanterns, hats and slickers just like the miners did, ride the mine train deep underground and search for remaining veins of copper, gold, turquoise, silver, lead and zinc.