Bisbee, Arizona in 1908

2010-08-29 | 11:19h
2013-10-26 | 19:54h
Bisbee, Arizona in 1908

In 1908, Bisbee had three daily newspapers: the Bisbee Daily Review, the Bisbee Evening Ore and the Daily Square Dealer. Bisbee was modern and wealthy, compared to other communities in the West.

Bisbee once had a Chinese community of workers that could work by day, but would be required by law to stay inside at night. These laws were common throughout Arizona and the West.

In 1908, Bisbee High’s Copper Chronicle was three years old. This excerpt is from The Story of Arizona, by Will H. Robinson. This book is available from Google Books:


In Bisbee people live, move and have their being in terms of copper, which is as it should be, for Bisbee is the home of the Copper Queen, the Calumet and Arizona, and other copper mines that have helped to make the name of Arizona known throughout the world.

Aside from the buildings themselves most cities have only two dimensions, length and breadth. Bisbee adds a third, up and down. It is situated in a steep canyon which, before the white man came, was covered with oaks and vines. Then Jack Dunn discovered a copper mine, and as a shaft can not be easily moved, even to make a convenient site for a town, in 1880 the oak trees and the vines were pulled down, brick and mortar took their places, and Tombstone Canyon, in the Mule Pass Mountains, became Bisbee.


Yet, after all, we doubt if the citizens of the town would have its natural conditions different. It makes for picturesqueness, those terraces up the steep slopes, and if one upon looking from his door yard can see nicely over the roof of his nearest neighbor, certainly there is nothing commonplace about it. At the bottom of the canyon is Main Street, the one continuous thoroughfare of the town, which, following the contour of the canyon, is almost as crooked as a snake with the colic. No one should object to that, however, for we all know that a curved line is more beautiful than a straight one.

One must not hastily conclude that because Bisbee is a mining camp that there is any atmosphere of instability about the town. Copper mines grow richer as they go down, and Bisbee people say that the town will be there till the Copper Queen and the C. & A. strike China.

And speaking of China, one of the unique traditions of Bisbee is that no member of the celestial kingdom may remain in town over night. Many of the early miners had lived in Nevada and California mining districts, where there had been antiChinese feeling, and they brought their prejudices with them. The rule is still supposed to prevail.

The year 1908 was an unfortunate one for the town. In the summer a tremendous flood carried thousands of tons of earth from the western hillside, spilling it into the buildings at the bottom of the canyon. In the fall a half million dollar fire destroyed a portion of the business district, but as was the case with Prescott, the new buildings were better than the old. In fact, during the last dozen years all of the leading cities of the state have acquired the kind of business houses that in the East one would scarcely find in cities of under fifty thousand inhabitants. Bisbee’s standard in public buildings and business houses is high. It has a department store that is perhaps the finest establishment of its kind in the state. There are also the usual good schools and well-built churches. The Catholics are now erecting a church building that will cost in the neighborhood of $75,000. And while we are talking in figures we might add that Bisbee put $90,000 into its high school. Lowell, Warren and Don Luis are the principal suburbs of Bisbee. At Lowell is the “Junction” shaft of the “C. & A.” Also located here are a bank and theater and several club houses.

Warren is the residential town of the district, and boasts of land that is either level or having a slope that may be termed “gentle” with residences surrounded by lawns, shrubbery and flowers. Just below Warren is the Country Club, the center of the social life of the district. Here are found golf links, tennis courts and a rifle range.

Bisbee has three daily newspapers, the Review, the Ore and the Square Dealer.


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