Friday, April 21, 2017

Bisbee, AZ

On Wednesday Bob and I drove about an hour south to the town of Bisbee, a funky little artist's town that claims to have the best climate in the world.

I can say that it was, indeed a lovely day. The town itself was originally a mining town, famous for its copper mines. Now that the mines have closed, tourism is the largest business. The hilly streets and high altitude (over a mile above sea level) made walking a little more challenging but it sure was worth it.

Bisbee has an active fiber arts guild and a shop in the basement of the local YWCA, and I was really hoping to visit with the weavers. Alas, it was not meant to be on this trip. This time of year is considered summertime in AZ and the guild shop was not open the day we visited. We will be back this fall, though. There's so much to see here!

Upon the recommendation of a shopkeeper, we toured the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum. Such a cool place. It has recently partnered with the Smithsonian Institution and many of the exhibits feature artifacts from their extensive collections in Washington, DC. We learned all about copper mining in the 1800s. In fact, it was partly because of these mines that Arizona was able to achieve statehood. Eastoners considered Arizona Territory a desert wasteland that was more likely to become a tax burden than be an asset. Arizona was able to point to their copper and silver mines and to demonstrate to the American people that their mineral riches would add to the wealth of the United States. Arizona became a state on February 14, 1912.

One display that fascinated me was this board full of brass tags. When a miner reported for duty, the timekeeper handed him a brass tag with a number on it.

A miner kept his brass tag with him at all times when underground, returning it to the timekeeper at the end of his shift. This routine of handing a miner his tag at the start of his workday was called "brassing in." A missing tag could mean that the miner was lost or injured underground, and a search was quickly organized. In case of an explosion or cave-in, the numbered tag would be used to identify the miner's body.

Downstairs in the museum was a boardroom that was used by town leaders to meet with investors, and the docent told us that everything here, from the paneling to the furniture, was original to the room...

...except for the television, of course! On it we saw an interesting documentary about the area. The oak paneling seen here was imported from England.

Bisbee hasn't changed much since this photo was taken in the late 1800s.

We had a scare on Thursday. We were walking Auggie and came near a black/tan shepherd mix. Auggie wanted to say hi, and the other owner said her dog was friendly so we brought them close to greet each other. At the last minute, Auggie turned away, obviously sensing something, and the dog grabbed Auggie by the tail and flipped him up in the air. It happened so quickly. Auggie slipped his collar and Bob grabbed him before anything else happened. Fortunately Auggie was all right, no blood or broken bones (tail ok, too,) and the woman was very apologetic. Auggie stayed close to us the rest of the afternoon but he seems to have gotten over it, thankfully.

Tomorrow we head towards Canyon de Chelly for a few days, stopping in Payson for rhe night. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we have cell phone service out there but there's a good chance we won't. So if you don't here from me in the next week, dear blog reader, that is why. I will be saving up my stories for you!

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