The story of Bisbee begins like many tales of westward expansion, one of intrepid pioneers seeking out their fortune in untapped natural resources in far off lands. The first mining claim would become the city of Bisbee, serving the Mule Mountain mines, pulling an astounding eight billion pounds of copper from the famed Queen Copper Mines. Though the flow of minerals from the mines have long dried up, the town of Bisbee - and a host of loyal locals - still remain. What you’ll find today is a unique hub of creatives, artists, entrepreneurs and die-hard Bisbeeans that wouldn’t have it any other way.
The skeletons of this once thriving industry still stand in Bisbee, with regular tours still conducted at the Copper Queen Mine, giving visitors a glimpse into the industry of American expansion. Back in town the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, gives a fascinating look into the lives of early settlers and the historical trajectory of this desert town. Once a year the pastime of the past comes alive, as the historic Warren Ballpark (America’s oldest continuously operated ballpark!) hums back to operation as the Copper City Classic Vintage Base Ball Tournament kicks off, played with 19th century rules and authentic uniforms.
Life in Bisbee isn’t about residing in the past, however, and it’s status as a thriving arts and cultural enclave is a testament to that. Bisbee’s streets are packed with a charming array of unique boutiques, shops, breweries and galleries unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere. Among them is Arizona’s smallest bar, a kinetic sculpture specialist, a spooky seance room and a host of historic saloons. Wandering around Bisbee’s streets is anything but ordinary. If you’re lucky, you might wander into town during one of Bisbee’s fun loving festivals, like the Bisbee 1000 Great Stair Climb and Craft Brewery Festival that sends participants clambering up the historic Bisbee Steps with a worthwhile sudsy reward at the finish.
Bisbee is a hard place to pin down, and the locals have carried on the spirit of self-determination to mold this little town into a unique destination all its own. It’s an esoteric enclave where quaint meets spectacle, artistic sensibilities meet mining history and entangle together in an intriguing pastiche. The creative impulses of the populace bubble up and spill out beyond the confines of this well preserved desert town, making Bisbee one of America’s most unique destinations.