Bisbee, Arizona: We started our day with a tour of the next-door Copper Queen Mine.
This is our view of the Copper Queen Mine from our RV park. A big ugly hole in the ground. The tour took us into the mountain!
After reserving our spot for the $12 tour, we lined-up to don our miner apparel and equipment.
Hard hats, rain jackets and a heavy leather belt. A five-pound battery was attached to the back of the belt. The battery operated our lamps.
Properly suited for our tour, we loaded ourselves into the miner’s tram. We had to straddle a padded bench! (Note: do not wear a mini-skirt on a tour of the Copper Queen Mine. Actually, dress warm and wear good shoes. It is dirty down there and the temperature is a constant 47 degrees)
And away we go! I am using my black & white shot of the mine shaft, as it felt like stepping back in time as we chugged our way – 1500 feet – into the mountain.
The tunnels are quite narrow and it is very dark. Not for the claustrophobic! The tunnel walls are very colorful.
A few times, the tram would stop in a lighted area and we would get off the cart and our guide would explain the mining procedure. 3000 miners worked 24/7 in three shifts. Opened in 1887, eight billion pounds of copper was eventually taken from this mine before it closed in 1974.
The Copper Queen Mine has 143 miles of tunnels on five different levels. Each level is 100 feet apart. It’s like a giant ant farm.
Our guide, Joe, in the red hat, worked as a miner in this mine when he was a young man. Here he explained how holes were drilled into the rock with water and compressed air using this “drill”. The holes were then packed with sticks of dynamite, the dynamite fuse was lit and then everyone “ran like hell”.
This barbaric contraption is an elevator! It was used to move workers between the different levels of tunneling. It was a very interesting 80 minute tour, but I was happy to back in the warm sun. It was cold down there!
Next on our agenda was to drive to the border, walk across the border and have lunch. Well, we are not the smartest of gringos, and ended up in the lane for autos to cross over. So we drove over the border. We drove around for a few minutes and decided we didn’t want to eat lunch in Mexico after all. So, we turned around and went back to the USA (the immigration officer looked at our passports and just wanted to know why we went to Germany in 2009). Our twenty minute Mexican vacation was over.
We found a little Mexican restaurant in Douglas, Arizona. DT had enchiladas.
You will not be surprised to learn I ordered two chicken tacos. Sin arroz. Sin frijoles.
On the way back to our RV, we made a stop to see the famous Shady Dell Trailer Park in Bisbee. The owners have restored 9 vintage trailers and rent them as motel rooms! They also have a little diner. Very cute. We saw a few empty RV sites in the back for rent, but do not think our monster would fit inside the Shady Dell Trailer Park!
Our friends invited us to their home for dinner. They live in a wonderful house built by the mining company for their workers over 100 years ago. The walls are solid adobe and one foot thick! High coved ceilings, wrapped arches, hardwood floors and the entire front of the house features a deep covered porch. Margaret and Darrell prepared roast chicken breasts in herbs with sauteed mushrooms and served the chicken with risotto and a tossed salad. For dessert, Margaret offered Oregon Marion berries over her homemade bourbon pound cake! Delicious. Not only did they feed us – Margaret sent us home with a QUART of her home-cured olive medley and a pint of olive oil. Best doggie bag ever.
Margaret still looks the same as she did in college when we worked at the student newspaper together… though in those days we both had long hair, parted down the center. I can’t believe we used to work until the wee-hours of the morning to put that paper “to bed”. One or two o’clock in the morning was the norm for us – Sunday-Thursday nights. When the newspaper was ready for the presses, we called a taxi and the taxi would drive the proof to the Springfield, Oregon newspaper and their press would run it for us and deliver the finished papers to newspaper boxes spread throughout the University of Oregon campus before the crack of dawn. When I would walk to class the next morning – there was the Oregon Daily Emerald in the paper box, free! I’m sure most students never thought about how the newspaper magically appeared each morning, but I am proud to say Margaret and I played a part in the history of the now 111 year old college newspaper.
We had an enjoyable evening with Margaret & Darrell and hope they venture up our way one of these days so we can return the hospitality.
Until my next update, I remain, your nostalgic correspondent.
RV Park: Queen Mine RV Park – Only 25 sites, all gravel back-ins with water, sewer and 30 amp electric. Completely open, no trees to block your satellite or shade your RV. Bathhouse and laundry. Walk to town. Free wifi and cable. Quiet. Cash or check only. (Tricky entry and don’t follow your GPS directions. Enter the Queen Mine Tour parking lot and proceed up the hill to the campground.) We paid $28.