Rain threatened while wind buffeted the truck and trailer as we made our way to Benson AZ on Friday, January 20. Fortunately, the rain waited for us to settle into our spot at Butterfield RV Resort and Observatory before the skies let loose a drenching. The rain continued through the night, and on and off the next day, sometimes spitting out hail. Butterfield, with its concrete pad sites and paved roads, was a good place to wait out the weather and catch up on clothes washing.
Last year when we stayed at Butterfield, their wifi did not work. This time my power cord had given out and my battery wasn’t going to last more than an hour or so. I didn’t hold out much hope for replacing the power cord in this rural town, but Keast’s Computer World had a cord that fit my power block. Hurrah! Thank you, Paul Keast, for getting me charged up and running again.
On Sunday, the weather cleared enough to do a little sightseeing in Bisbee AZ about an hour south from Benson. A visit to Bisbee is like going back in time as soon as you pop through the tunnel. Built in a canyon on hills and narrow streets with brick architecture dating from the early 1900s, modern day cars and trucks are out of place. Hand-carved and painted designs ornament the buildings in renaissance, neoclassical, gothic revival, Italianate, and Romanesque revival, some of which are restored to their beauty of an earlier time while others patiently await their transformation.
Street scenes of Bisbee.
Examples of medallions, some painted and some not yet restored.
The post office and Western Bank buildings are across the street from each other.
The old JC Penney store currently stands empty, other stores sport bright fresh colors, while others still need a little tender loving care.
Founded in 1880, the town serves as the county seat for the Cochise County and is a historic example of the old Southwest. Copper, gold, and silver attracted people to the area for mining opportunities and by 1910, the population rose to 9,019, but declined by 1950 to 6,000. Today, the population is estimated at 5,600.
Phelps Dodge Corporation stopped operations of its copper mine in 1975, mayor Chuck Eads and Phelps Dodge combined efforts to develop a mine tour and historic interpretation of a portion of the world-famous Copper Queen Mine to promote tourism as a base for the city’s economy. Thus, Bisbee moved from a mining town to a destination for tourists. For information on the Queen Mine Tour, click here.
After roaming in and out of galleries, an antique store, and a museum, we stopped in at Bisbee Olive Oil where we met Robert Kravitz, an avid rock and roll aficionado. Rock and roll music we remembered from our teens and early twenties played through the speakers, while we browsed through the shop sampling a few of the 60 flavors of olive oil, vinegar, and marinades. A visit to this store is worth the time just to see the framed album covers that decorate the red brick walls. Some of the covers were ones we owned once upon a time, and others were limited editions or U.S. banned covers with risqué themes. Don’t forget to taste the olive oil.
With more than 20 restaurants in town, it was difficult to decide where to have lunch. When in doubt, ask a local. Robert recommended Café Cornucopia and we couldn’t have been happier with our meal and the friendly service.
We stopped in at Optimo Hatworks where all the hats are handmade in the store or from suppliers. Have a hat that needs repair? Contact Optimo.
St. Elmo has been in business since 1902, except for prohibition.
Bisbee is a place to throw off the effects of stress, stroll through town, partake in a beer or wine tasting, tour the Copper Queen Mine, take one of the Lavendar Jeep Tours, or just sit back, put your feet up, and rest.
With approximately 20 inns, hotels, and B & Bs, Bisbee has a bed to suit any type of traveler. Book a room at Audrey’s Inn, Bisbee Grand Hotel, Copper Queen Hotel, or check into The Shady Dell where you can sleep in a vintage aluminum trailer.
We will definitely visit Bisbee again if we make our way back to southern Arizona. On my to do list are the mine and jeep tours.
Next stop? Alpine TX after a night or two in Las Cruces.