Bisbee and Tombstone, Arizona

Draw yer pistols, this weekend my parents and I headed to the wild, Wild West. Bisbee, AZ is famous for its copper mines, which offer tours to tourists and the like. We would have gone on a copper mine tour, but my mom doesn’t like being underground. Instead, we occupied ourselves with everything else Bisbee had to offer.

I was most enamored with the way Bisbee was constructed: homes are built into mountains and steep streets go up and down and up again. The stairs of Bisbee are the same way and many calories were burned trekking around. The first exploring we did was through Main Street in historic Bisbee; an alley filled with vintage shops, art galleries and used bookstores. My parents and I were in an antiques shop when we were enticed by the overwhelming smell of coffee. We made our way to Old Bisbee Roasters where we met Seth Appell, who roasts coffee beans from all over the world; my parents bought a sampler of flavors.

Afterwards, we visited the Copper Queen, Bisbee’s very own haunted hotel. The Copper Queen has an old style, with floral upholstered couches and creaky stairs. The Copper Queen’s guests are visited frequently by three ghosts, sure to spook you out of any sleep. I really enjoyed reading the Copper Queen’s ghost journal, where guests wrote stories of encounters: shiny quarters moved and cigar smoke smelled. In October of 2008, the same girls who accompanied me to Sedona and I went on a ghost tour of the Hotel San Carlos in downtown Phoenix. In a photo we took, a man (who clearly was not in the elevator before) appeared behind our shoulders. I tried recreating this in mirrors at the Copper Queen, but only found some misplaced hair.

Bisbee is good for a day trip, but wouldn’t take up an entire day. My parents and I ran out of things to do within two hours. We decided to head over to famed Tombstone, Arizona, as it was so close. Parts of Tombstone are like a real-life theme park, and tourists could spend a lot of money on carriage rides and staged gun fights. When my dad parked my car, we were greeted, rather crudely by a man dressed in a sheriff’s costume. My dad jokingly asked the man if he had come to arrest my mother and I, and boy oh boy did he want to! I quote “You might want to watch what your father says because I would gladly arrest you” “I would love to put you in handcuffs”. I MEAN SERIOUSLY?! COULD YOU BE ANYMORE DISGUSTING?! So let this serve as a warning – if you see a man with a thick, brown handlebar mustache dressed as a sheriff, avoid him at all costs, or punch him in the face, he wants to rape you.

Other than Creeper McCreeperson, Tombstone was a fun place to explore with a family of little kids. Unfortunately I’m not a teenager, but I still had a fun time exploring the local bar.

I really enjoyed the Boothill Graveyard, where tombstones like the one belonging to Lester Moore make it difficult to believe whether the graves are real or not. Dear old Lester took “Four slugs from a 44, no les no more.” The brochure provided with a donation to the graveyard gives details of the people who, yes, really are buried on Boothill. For those who like cheesy souvenirs, Boothill has a wide variety of Tombstone t-shirts, shot glasses and salsa.

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9 thoughts on “Bisbee and Tombstone, Arizona

  1. (View # 108) Draw yer pistols! Thanks for doing that just to satisfy my easily amused sense of humor. FYI: “No less*, no more.”

    I like this post.

    -Trevor Smith

  2. Sounds like you missed a few things… but, you’re right, Bisbee is not really an all-day place to hang out– it’s good for antiquing if you’re into that. The Copper Queen isn’t the only Haunted Hot Spot in Bisbee. To name a few– The Oliver House, Hotel LaMoore, the Bisbee Grand… There’s a fairly decent ghost walk down there: http://www.oldbisbeeghosttour.com/

    The same company also runs a Tombstone ghost walk… which, I admit I wasn’t too into. Tombstone has a lot of things to offer too. I take it you didn’t go see Mr Ed Schieffelin’s Cairn? That’s a couple miles out of town. Plus, the Epitaph office is free to the public. Also, be careful what you say around town about the infamous gunfight– descendants (specifically Ike Clanton) still walk the streets.

    Boothill IS grand. That booklet is worth the $2 donation– I get one every time I visit Tombstone. My fave grave is the Wells Fargo fellow who took a bullet to the face and died.

    I also like the Old Courthouse– lots of info on the town’s founding there if you like history. Though, I can’t recall if it’s closed because of the economy or not. Still, you can get a better deal on post cards and things at the Courthouse.

    Birdcage Theater is worth the extra pennies– lots of period memorabilia inside. If you can’t fork out the fundage, at least go into the lobby and hear the spiel about the bullet holes in the lobby.

    As for the mustache’s comment– welcome to the Wild West!

    They don’t call it wild for naught– plus, it sounds like the fellow was just joking back with your dad. Living in a touristy town, the locals can get feisty.

      1. I live in the Tucson-Metro Area… so I get around southern Arizona a lot. There are a lot of up-and-coming events in Tucson too… not sure what sort of things you’re interested in doing, but I can recommend a few interesting things if you’re looking for things to do and see.

        October 15-17, 2010– Helldorado Days– Tombstone, AZ
        http://www.helldoradodays.com/
        Personally, I prefer to go on days that aren’t Hellish-busy with tourists… I’ve actually never been because my October are always packed with Halloween. (My Tombstone Photos)

        January 22, 2011 — Dillinger Days– Downtown Tucson, AZ
        Lots of events there and alllllll free. Watch a reenactment of 1920’s gangster, John Dillinger’s capture and the fire at Hotel Congress. They open up Hotel Congress (tell a few local ghost stories), have a car show and they open the museum downtown and display Dillinger’s guns. The event always falls in line with the anniversary of Dillinger’s capture. It’s GREAT local history and they really go all out. I’ve been the past two years and it’s such a blast. (My Photos)

        If you really want to top the evening off, ask the manager at Hotel Congress about the Lost Souls ghost walk. I’m not sure if it’s still around or not, but it’s THE BEST ghost walk I’ve ever been on. I believe they still wait at the lamp post in front of the Amtrak station (across the street –Toole Ave– from Hotel Congress)… you must have +three people there and it costs, I think $12/ea. They have Fri and Saturday tours that start at 6:45pm. Again– you’d have to ask the manager at Hotel Congress if they still do the tours…

        February 12, 2011 — Fort Lowell Day– Fort Lowell- Tucson, AZ– starts around 10am
        (Might be Feb 19th, but I’m fairly certain it’s the 12th) They have Calvary there– they also open the old adobe fort up and have other activities. This event is FREE. I went last year and one of the volunteers from the Arizona Historical Society told me it’s the 30th anniversary in 2011. (My Photos)

        March 12-13, 2011–Tucson Festival of Books– University of Arizona Mall
        The event takes up the whole UA Mall area (and then some) with booths. There was a circus kids could watch for the 2010 event. They also have storybook characters walking around. There are classes and “freebies”. It’s VERY crowded…. but there is a lot to do…. and it’s FREE (garage parking is free too, but get there early!). The Tucson Weekly will have more information on it (usually) in their issue preceding the event.

        Enjoy!

  3. In memory of Frank Bowles “As you pass by remember that as you are so once was i, and as i am you soon will be. Remember me. ” I liked that headstone.

  4. We enjoyed the mine tour also where we saw the the old workings of the famous Queen Mine where great tonnages of extremely rich copper ore was mined in the early days. Taking the Queen Mine Tour is to step back through the pages of history. A melting pot of immigrant miners from the mining districts of Europe labored beneath the Mule Mountains to feed the insatiable demand for copper for electricity.

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