The Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum is located in a two-story brick building that was erected in 1895 as the Phelps Dodge General Office Building by the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Co., a Phelps Dodge subsidiary. The building provided offices for the mine superintendent, general manager, and other company employees until 1961, and it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1983.
The ground floor exhibit, “Urban Outpost,” examines the first 40 years of Bisbee history through historic photos, artifacts of daily life, and accounts of the multi-national, multi-cultural collection of miners who lived and worked there and the discrimination faced by the Mexican, black, southern European, and Chinese miners. It also holds the oak-lined executive offices, which have been restored, and a research library. The museum’s grounds have examples of mining equipment, including ore cars, and across the street is the building that once housed the Phelps Dodge Company Store.
The second floor exhibit, “Digging In,” was prepared in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and examines how the electrification of America spurred demand for copper and drove Bisbee’s mining boom. Visitors enter through a change house used by miners to get ready for their shifts and explore a mockup of an underground mine. The exhibit covers the history of mining in the region, from working by hand with four-pound hammers in caverns lit by candles to using electric-powered drills and lighting as miners dug 2,000 miles of tunnels under the Mule Mountains . It continues through the transition to open-pit mining for low-grade ore that began in Bisbee in 1917 and continued until the closure of the Lavender Pit in 1975. The exhibit provides examples of the wealth of minerals found in the Bisbee area, including the blue-green ores that held copper.
Details 5 Copper Queen Plaza Bisbee, AZ 85603 (520) 432-7071 http://www.bisbeemuseum.org/