Thursday, February 19, 2009



We had to get ourselves moving a little earlier than usual this morning because we wanted to have breakfast at the Bisbee Breakfast Club before taking the Queen Mine tour at 10:30. A cloudless sky made for some heavy frost in the night but the weatherman tells us we're right on the doorstep of a healthy warming trend. That would be nice!! WE FINALLY MADE IT TO THE BISBEE BREAKFAST CLUB
It was a relaxing 25 minute drive to Bisbee despite the Border Patrol helicopter flying at tree top level on Frontier road with boots on the ground beating the shrubs for rabbits wearing sombreros. The land is flat here on the valley floor but we were soon into the foothills of the Mule mountains heading for the fascinating little alpine like town of colorful Bisbee. This is a town like no other and I must say that it is probably the most interesting little place I've ever been.
We found the Bisbee Breakfast Club located in a very old part of Bisbee that we had not seen before. It has one mainstreet & most of the stores are vacant. Looks like everybody just dropped everything & left one day many years ago & never came back. It's almost as if the town decided to move about a mile to the northwest on the other side of the big open pit Lavender mine where the heart of Bisbee now lives. It's nice that the Bisbee Breakfast Club is located in this 1940's section of town because that means lots of easy parking. Even so, there were a lot of cars on the street around the restaurant. We hear that people are lined up to get in on the week-ends. As soon as you walk into the BBC the open spaciousness, creative designs & warm breakfast smells make you feel at home. Didn't matter if they brought me a stone on a plate, I was still going to like it here. Breakfast was great & the staff was friendly. Be sure to have a look at to-day's web album because I even took a picture of my breakfast. AN OLD SECTION OF TOWN

We arrived at the Queen Mine building near an RV Park about 10 & got our tickets. $12 each. The building is large with a big cozy fireplace in the corner. Lots of mining displays & exhibits here. About 10:20 we were all summoned up to a counter where we were outfitted with raincoats, mining helmets, and a battery pack with a light attached to it. There were about 40 people suited up for the tour. Lots of picture taking because we all looked like a bunch of yellow hard hat penguins or something. Outside the building everyone boarded a train like affair unlike any other train like affair I've ever seen. Pulled by a small orange iron engine of sorts it's 10 cars or so had to mounted much the same way as you mount a horse. You stepped up & swung a leg over a raised but cushioned board or something. Some folks raised their leg better than others, if ya know what I mean. Two ex-miners were our guide tours. The main fellow said his Grandfather & Father both worked this mine & he had worked here for 30 years before retiring in 93. ALL ABOARD FOR THE MINE TOUR

The Queen Mine goes straight into the mountain for 1500 feet unlike most other mines that would go straight down that distance. Temperature in there is about 48F at all times so we were all dressed warm. The guide might have told us his name but if he did I didn't hear him so from here on I'm going to call him Rocky. I will call his assistant, Stoner. Rocky & Stoner boarded the small orange engine & away we went bumping & rocking our way into the long dark mountain tunnel. First stop was at about the 300 foot mark where we all dis-embarked the straddling train & walked single file up a set of old wooden steps into a cavernous room. Reminded me right away of the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico & the Kartchner Caverns not far from here over near Benson. However there was a big difference. Those large caverns were made by Mother Nature & this small cavern we were standing in was made by man. Good thing we were all wearing miner's lights. Rocky explained all parts of the mining operations in this cavern & how it was done. He pointed out different mineral veins running through the rocks & an air shaft. Sparkling crystals could be seen in some of the rocks. So hard to believe that early miners only had candles to work with. WE WILL GO STRAIGHT IN THERE FOR 1500 FEET

Our next stop was at the end of the tunnel at the 1500 foot mark. Here we dis-embarked & Rocky led us on foot into another side tunnel while Stoner took off with the train to some unknown dark destination to turn it around. In this section of the mine were heavy iron cars used for hauling the tons of rocks. There were old elevators & chutes for dumping the rock into the small rail cars. A red car for hauling dynamite & a red emergency phone on the rock wall in case of disaster. 3 steel rock drills were set up & Rocky explained how they were used. He called one the widowmaker because of the dust it created which in turn entered the operators lungs, thus shortening his life. He also demonstrated how dynamite was packed into the drilled holes & how the fuses were all lit to set the dynamite off in a series of timed explosions. From the time the fuses were lit, the dynamite guy had a short 8 minutes to get himself over to the other side of Texas. Of particular interest was another steel car sitting nearby with two curious opened lids & two round holes on the top. Well wouldn't you know it......this was the miners toilet. A true dumper so to speak. Rocky said when this car was full it was pulled out of the mine by a "honey wagon" person & pumped out. Not a nice job in them days for sure!!!! THE MINER'S TOILET CAR

By the time we returned up the shaft, Stoner was back with the train. Everyone straddled up & away we went heading back for the outside world. Yes, yes, some people straddle better than others. We emerged about 5 minutes later out of the cooler dark mineshaft into the much warmer & brighter light of day. From there it was back into the miners building where everyone was helped out of their mining gear. All & all, it was a great tour & we enjoyed the hour long underground learning experience. ROCKY DEMONSTRATES THE LIGHTING OF DYNAMITE FUSES

From the mine we drove across the road & into the downtown section of Bisbee. We spent the next hour & a half walking & driving up & down & around the town trying to take in as much of this Bisbee experience as we could. For anyone interested in architecture, painting, photography, etc., this town is a must see for sure. Seems to be something here for everybody, especially if you are an arts type person. To see how the houses are built into & onto the hillsides is something else. The narrow little winding streets, the squeeze through alleys, and never ending stairways reaching for the sky just have to be seen to be appreciated. Multi-colored restored miners cabins, magnificent stone & brick buildings, stately Hotels, cozy bed & breakfast cottages, artsy cafe's, quaint shops, miner's museums, & the list just goes on & on & on. We even saw daffodils & pansies blooming to-day. I took another ka-zillion million pictures but I'm not going to include them in to-day's web album. Instead I will make up a separate web album with to-day's Bisbee pics & the one's from last week & put them all to-gether. I'm sure we'll be back to Bisbee a few more times before we depart the area next month & I will include future photos in one big Bisbee album so that they are all to-gether. I will start putting that album to-gether to-morrow. NO MAME YOU CAN'T KEEP THE MINER'S HELMET

We rolled out of Bisbee around 2 heading for the rig. Noticed a "For Sale" sign on a nice looking but abandoned ranch style house on the way back. Just for fun Kelly called the real estate number & got a recording. It said, "I'm up to my butt in alligators to-day but if you leave a message I'll call you back." She didn't leave a message but yep, we're out here in the old wild west alright where cowboys is cowboys & gators is gators. Butt grabbin gators that is...........................................................

1 comment:

  1. Still following your blog and living vicariously through you two...until we can get on the road. Hoping for early December...Dennis, my hubby is helping harvest corn and soybeans for a friend and they are late this year...Keep up the great blog...Love it!!