People who live in isolated mountains, especially for years, tend to be happier and have great sense of humour, did you notice something like this? It's well seen in Bisbee.
I was talking with a happy smiling, retired couple in cafe (Bisbee Coffee Company). I asked them about my futher road to Douglas and how to get to Lavander Pit, whether I would have to go through another tunnel to get there. They jokingly named the Lavander Pit THE HOLE, the largest hole south of I-10. As for the tunnels they told me that there were some down in the hole (guided tours there only) but the only one digged for a highway - the TIME TUNNEL - I had already gone through driving from Tombstone. I asked them about that strange tunnel name and got to know that it's officially named the Mule Pass Tunnel. But they call this tunnel the TIME TUNNEL because all who go through it come out into another time zone :-). Right, time has another meaning in Bisbee. It's a place to slow down and take time to smell roses!
Driving Arizona State Highway 80 called Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway from Tombstone towards Bisbee I passed through quite long tunnel just before reaching the town. It was a surprise for me because there are very few tunnels in the USA outside larger cities.
The paved Route 80 to Bisbee was constructed by prison labour in 1913 - 1914 and originally the road wound over the Mule Pass a few hundreds feet above the contemporary Mule Pass Tunnel which was build in 1958. The Mule Pass Tunnel was the longest in Arizona until construction of the tunnel in Phoenix on Interstate 10 through downtown.
When we arrived to Bisbee and got off a car in Historic District I noticed a very colorful, old car parked on a street. As soon as I started to take pictures, a medium-age, black-haired and dark skinned woman got off the art car. Oh, I didn't notice her behind the front windshield. She smiled, welcomed us in Bisbee, asked when we were from and excused us as she was in a hurry and had to drive away. But she also gave us a red rose flower wishing us great time in her town. It was quite nice and usual hippie welcome.
Soon later, strolling and driving around Bisbee I saw a few long-haired, medium aged or older hippies walking on sidewalks. Unfortunatelly I was ashamed to take them pictures. Although one of them walking on the oposite side of a street and showing us V sign with her fingers looked great for a picture: an old, wrinkled, bearded face with a funny, colorful woolen cap. Well, I haven't seen any young hippies but some young punks wearing leather rocker jackets in Bisbee. I have also seen twice single, older hippies walking like a drunk or on drugs, but I am not sure about that and they both have been totally harmless.
Although I can't agree with most hippies' political activities (unconditional, strong, so called "pacifism" may actually cause more wars in my opinion) and say to their approach to drug taking, I personally think that it’s a good thing that hippies went around taking over these old run down ghost towns and transforming them into artist colonies. They have fixed up a lot of the old building as gallerys and have a lot of nice artwork. Now, Bisbee seems to be an off-kilter, slightly seedy, edgy, and funky place.
I have never seen as tall and as numerous utility poles as in Bisbee. The numerous wooden telephone and power poles form thick net of electricity and telephone cables in the air that is unfortunatelly well seen in numerous pictures I have taken in Bisbee.
These poles must be tall, sometimes as tall as a 4-floor building, for the obvious reason: Bisbee is located on partly quiet steep hillsides and bare wires surely must run enough high for safety reasons. Few utility poles are still equipped in old-fashionable, ceramic insulators. Well, they were necessary only for higher voltage (power) bare wires not used since conducting copper wires are insulated by an outer layer of polyethylene. Now, the numerous utility poles add a lot of Old World charm to Bisbee but the tangle net of cables in the air disturbs taking pictures and ruins many of them.
Generally driving along many towns and neighbourhoods of even larger US cities, I saw numerous wooden electric and telephone poles alongside the road. It was nothing special but I was a little bit surprised to see them in the middle of often busy areas. Well, these poles, a lot of green space and height restrictions on both houses and local businesses help some fast-growing suburban communities keep a little of its small-town flavour. In Poland, electric and telephone cables are hidden underground to protect them from animal life and the weather. Thanks it the wires can't ruin some pictures.
In Bisbee I have visited (but not stayed in) Copper Queen Hotel, I've also seen Copper Queen Building and Copper Queen Library. Later on I've discovered Copper Queen beer and T-shirts. and I gave a try to Coppet Queen Coffee at Copper Queen Plaza. I've also seen Copper Queen local alcoholic drink in a saloon. At the end I've seen closed Copper Queen Mine and direction signs to Copper Queen Community Hospital.
Well, I can understand copper which made Bisbee. The local mines produced metals valued at $6.1 billion (at 1975 price) that is probably world record. But what about Queen? The name Copper Queen derives from the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company, the name of company which subsidiary called Phelps Dodge Corporation became the dominant force and eventually the sole operator of the Bisbee mining district.
Follow the link below to read a very interesting interview with Lynn R. Bailey - author of more than twenty books on Western history - on Bisbee. Well, it seems that Copper Queen company took care about Bisbee and its citizens in the past for example giving money for the first public library and hospital in Arizona Territory.
I was surprised to see very many old, say over 15-20 years old, cars still in use in Bisbee. They perfectly fit to Old Times charm of Bisbee and local, partly pretty renovated old houses. Although when Bisbee was founded and grew up as a mining boomtown, the world's largest mining town and the largest city between San Francisco and Saint Louis, that was at turn of the 19th and the 20th century there were horses and horsecoaches, not cars.
Well, I had to think whether it is a thing of local fashion or poverty to use old cars. I think both. Bisbee is not a ghost town and it develops quite fast. Poverty and unemployment in Bisbee is below average to Arizona. Anyway, there is large contrast between relatively new and modern cars of visitors parked down Old Bisbee and those parked up by local houses.
I was surprised when I once wrote in a car magazine that average car registered in the USA is over 10 years old and older than in my homecountry, Poland. Well, most American families have 2 or more cars and they may rarely use the oldest ones. And they don't care that much (in contrast to Germans and Austrians and similar to Scandinavians in Europe) how old their car is, it would be enough comfortable and not to stop unexpectadly on a road.