Bisbee, Arizona: Our Own Little Corner of the World

Author: , July 30th, 2010
by Steve Arndt, The Sleepy Tortoise Guesthouse, Bisbee, Arizona
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Bisbee, Arizona

The best vacation spots are those corners of the world that you just can’t get out of your mind. Places so special, or just plain weird, that they take on their own personalities.

Bisbee, ArizonaWelcome to Bisbee, Arizona. Many of our 6,500 or so residents found our community serendipitously, were smitten, and suddenly changed their life plans to relocate here. Others have roots that run deep into our local history, back to when copper was discovered and a mining camp exploded into “The Queen of the Copper Mines”.

This mountain town is still dotted with shaft entrances that lead to over 2,000 miles of tunnels.

There is a massive dormant open pit mine that for many years made Bisbee the leading copper producer in the nation. Inexpensive underground mine tours and a Smithsonian Institute affiliated mining museum are “must sees”.

Historic Bisbee, ArizonaOther signs of our colorful history endure. The oldest ballpark in the nation still hosts baseball games.

Brewery Gulch, a local street once teeming with brothels, opium dens, and over 40 bars in a four block stretch, still echoes its past in the oldest continually operating bar in Arizona.

Some of the “cribs” of our shady ladies – who identified themselves with striped stockings, still stand – as do property fences made entirely of the headboards of their beds.

Even the tamer elements of our past left indelible evidence that makes Bisbee unique: steep mountainside streets populated with a mix of miners shacks and historic homes interconnected with mule trails – many converted into thousands of stairs by the WPA.

The oldest Women’s Club in the state, a large selection of historic churches, the only high school building anywhere with ground level entrances on 3 floors, and the mansions of mine barons with mountains of tailings in their backyards and commanding views of old Mexico from their front yards are amongst many other interesting wrinkles on the face of our town.

Art in Bisbee, ArizonaLocated a mile high in the Mule Mountains, Bisbee is blessed with a climate so mild it consistently surprises visitors who expect oven-like desert temperatures so close to the border. Area hikers report sightings of creatures that most people in our country could not identify: coatimundis, javalinas, ringtail “cats” (related to raccoons), jaguarundis, wind scorpions, vinegarones, and giant centipedes. All these coexist with a multitude of more prosaic western species (mountain lion, bear, deer, skunk, fox, hundreds of bird species, coyote, etc.) and even the occasional, albeit rarely seen, jaguar.

Our most interesting denizens are the good citizens of Bisbee. An interesting and accepting blend of artists, ranchers, old hippies, working class and eccentrics – all peacefully and respectfully live together. The people: that’s the real story of our town.

We have far more festivities and cultural activities than other communities our size. And yes, we struggle with the issues facing life in a modern day border town, but somehow when you travel through the tunnel that heralds your arrival, you find yourself feeling like you’ve traveled back in time… back to a time in our history called the “good old days”.

The Sleepy Tortoise, Bisbee, ArizonaColorful and cozy, warm and welcoming, The Sleepy Tortoise offers a charming slice of the Bisbee experience. Perfectly located in the historic residential district, the guesthouse is a convenient walk to downtown, yet far enough to afford peace and relaxation.

This private accommodation includes: one comfy bedroom; full bath; refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, coffee and tea; cable television with DVD; central heat and A/C; ceiling fan; free WiFi; a balcony and off-street parking. An incredible value at $85/night, $500/week – cash, Visa or Mastercard. For more, please see our website or call us today.