Bisbee, Arizona in 1917

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2010-08-29 | 11:20h
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2013-10-26 | 19:54h
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Bisbee, Arizona in 1917

As one rides higher up this canyon he sees ahead a road of wide proportions and perfect grade, that climbs to the stars. This is the famous prison-labor-built road of the great Borderland Highway connecting El Paso, Douglas, Bisbee and Tucson with the California Coast. Our powerful car climbs the hill with ease. Soon we leave the street of the city which has climbed along with us to a couple of miles distance from the depot, and now, swinging around to the right we are upon this noted highway. It is a superlative piece of road-building, and whatever fault one may find with Governor Hunt for his determination to enunciate his pet humanitarian theories, one feels that here, at least, he has made good. Prisoners, sentenced to a life of uselessness and brooding at the state penitentiary, were here put to work at a useful and beneficial occupation, a work that means much to the comfort and pleasure of the citizens of, and visitors to, the State, and at the same time gave the state’s prisoners healthful outlet for their energies. Miles of this fine highway were built on the way to Tombstone, where the state’s prisoners were removed, and the city’s prisoners have now taken up the work and are carrying it along to the extreme confines of the city’s territory.

A ride over this road is one of the pleasures offered visitors to Bisbee. To those of a romantic and historic turn of mind, however, this quaint mining-camp has several places of especial interest. It is well to recall the fact that in the early ‘eighties there were many of the criminal element that purposely came to the active camp of Bisbee, not only because much money was in circulation, but it was near the Mexican border, whither they could flee if their crimes seemed to be bringing upon them merited punishment. In August, 1880, a murder of a Mexican was committed above Castle Rock, the criminal escaped, and this was but one of many similar murders.

In December, 1883, occurred the Bisbee massacre, an event of horror that is often narrated even to this day. On the first of the month five strangers came to the city. They made themselves agreeable and no one suspected them of ulterior motives, but on the evening of the eighth they rode masked, up the Gulch, three of them entering the leading store, the other two remaining outside, as sentinels or guards. While robbing was going on inside, the miscreants outside commanded two men who were passing to throw up their hands and enter the store. These men refused, one rushing into a near-by saloon, the other dashing down the street. Firing at once commenced. The bandits fled, but not until they had killed the deputy sheriff, and an innocent woman bystander who was about to give birth to a child, and two others. A posse was organized, and a courier sent to Tombstone, the county seat, to apprise the sheriff, the ride of twenty-eight miles over the mountains being made on horseback in less than two hours. In about two weeks’ time though two of the murderers had escaped into Mexico, the whole five were captured and securely held in the Tombstone jail. With one of the posse was a man named Heith. He was exceedingly solicitous about catching the bandits, but it was soon observed that whenever the sheriff was anxious to follow a trail that seemed to him to be sure, this man would lead him off in another direction. In due time it was discovered that this man was one of the gang, had undoubtedly planned the “hold-up,” and had guided his confederates in their movements. He was arrested and jailed with the others. In due time the five principals were tried and sentenced to be hung. Keith’s trial resulted in a judgment that he be imprisoned for life. But the citizens took him from the officers and hung him to a telegraph pole, and on the 28th of March, 1884, the other poor misguided wretches were officially swung into eternity upon a gallows erected in the Tombstone jail yard. The scene of the massacre is still pointed out in Bisbee. These are but samples of the actions of the lawless days. Men were often shot with their boots on, and it seemed incredible that the quiet, orderly, progressive, cultured city of the Bisbee of to-day can be the outcome of the wild camp that it certainly was thirty or more years ago.

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Every visitor who has never inspected a mine, should go into one or other of the famous mines of the camp. Permits can always be obtained by reputable visitors. Here may be seen the actual workings, with all the latest modern appliances and inventions. There are literally scores of miles of tunnels, with vast chambers of ore, of wonderful variety and astonishing splendor and beauty of color.

In the Shattuck mine is a cave of vast proportions where stalactites and stalagmites abound. Some of the former are several feet long and the latter assume a multitude of forms. Bunches of white grapes, large and small masses of familiar and unfamiliar shapes attract the eye in every direction. On some portions of the walls filmy silken threads seem to intermingle with white satin-surfaced ribbons, but all thrown together in inextricable confusion.

After the mines are visited a ride should be taken over the magnificent Borderland Highway, before described, to Tombstone. Another trip is to Ramsay’s Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains, where a dashing mountain stream of pure water, a forest of trees and garden of fruits and flowers make a scene that enchants the eyes even of those who are familiar with pictures of wooded beauty.

Mount Huachuca and Miller’s Canyon are other interesting spots in the Huachucas, and the hunter or fisherman can enjoy his chosen sport to the uttermost in these desirable regions.

During this time the Copper Queen Hotel affords one a delightful stopping-place to which he returns each night with comfort.

Lowell is in reality an extension of Bisbee, while Warren is the residence section of both. Here there is room enough on the foothills to expand, and many exquisite sites and outlooks are already occupied by fine residences, some of which have cost many thousands of dollars in their erection, and far more in their equipment and furnishing.

To working men of the steadier class — those with families, this district makes an especial appeal. They are needed and welcomed. There are the best of schools for the children, and churches, clubs, etc., for the adults. and as good stores as can be found in any city in the world outside of the great metropolises.

The wages paid are the highest of any camp in the United States, the men and their employers working together for the best interests of each. Over a million dollars wages a month are now being paid out by the three leading mining companies.

Hence to tourist and pleasure seeker, workingman and investor, Bisbee and the Warren District are peculiarly attractive and should be visited by all who wish to know Arizona as it really is.

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