Today’s drive in cool, wet, and sometimes snowy conditions was to Bisbee, Arizona, a small city about 90 miles southeast of Tucson, and 11 miles north of the Mexican border. It is in the Mule Mountains and sits at an elevation of 5538 feet. In its heyday, Bisbee proved to be one of the richest mineral sites in the world, producing nearly three million ounces of gold and more than eight billion pounds of copper, not to mention the silver, lead and zinc that came from these rich lands. In the early 1900’s, driven by the booming mining industry, Bisbee had become the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. With a population of over 20,000 people by the beginning of the century, Bisbee was one of the most cultured cities in the west.
When the mines closed, a tremendous shift occurred in the local population. As many mining employees and their families left to pursue work elsewhere, an influx of creative free spirits found Bisbee’s historic district to be an attractive, inspiring, and inexpensive location to settle and pursue their artistic endeavors. Today, Bisbee is best known as an art colony. We found it to be underwhelming.