Saturday, March 29, 2014

Too tough to die

Too tough to die

Tombstone -- the “town too tough to die.”  You can visualize ladies with long dresses, ruffled petticoats peeking out from underneath; perhaps you can see a lady of the evening hanging out of a window calling sweetly to a cowboy; maybe you can hear the cowboys with their spurs jingling on their boots as they walk across a dirt street, or you can hear the hooves and see the horses pulling wagons or a stagecoach, with the smell of horse sweat wafting along in the heat.

The stagecoaches were offering guided rides about town.

Tombstone – a place of gun fights, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and all the bloody history, the home of Boothill Graveyard, 1878 – 1884, where the first pioneers -- housewives, miners, gamblers, cowboys and many more are laid to rest.   

We spent the evening and most of a day wandering the streets, partaking of Tombstone, seeing stagecoaches and wagons pulled by horses and mules, seeing the duster-clad men toting hog irons on their hips, some of them waiting to participate in the gunfight at the OK Corral, and us drinking a Tombstone Sarsaparilla.

Tourists have photos taken with gunslingers, lawmen or marshals.  It's an everyday occurrence in Tombstone.

Tombstone Sarasparilla ... it hits the spot.
And there were a few other things to photograph that were just interesting.

The reenactment of the OK Corral gunfight did not draw our attention on this day.  We preferred to meet Johnnie, the man responsible for the Tombstone Sarsaparilla, chatting with him and seeing his dog, Jennie, who looked like she may have had one too many of the drinks herself.  But she was a good watchdog.

Johnnie removed the cap for me.
Up and down the main street we went, wandering by and in some of the touristy shops selling everything you could imagine that is connected to an old west town.  Museums, Big Nose Kate’s 1880s Saloon.

Big Nosed Kate's.

Just in case there were any doubt.
The piano in Big Nosed Kate's. 
It was all great fun to look at, knowing that what we were seeing was not a town built as a Hollywood set.  It’s a real town with real buildings from the 1880s and a very real history.  We settled on ice cream. 

There’s so much to see in this town, but we were drawn to the graveyard.  The graveyard has more than 250 graves.  The name Boothill came about because there were so many violent deaths. 

Some are tragic … Eva Waters, 3 months old, scarlet fever.

Delia William was the colored proprietress of a lodging house.  She committed suicide by taking arsenic.
Others are natural deaths, but most are death by unnatural causes. 

Mrs. Ah Lum had a great influence among the Chinese residents in Tombstone.  Born in China, some believed she had Tong affiliation. 

John was nearly 100 years old when he died.  He arrived in Tombstone in 1879 with the John Slaughter family and spent his life in and around Tombstone.
These two died of leprosy.

Van Houten was beaten in the face with a stone until he died  The trouble was over his mining claim that he had not recorded.
This is where the original good, bad and ugly came from … ladies, babies, suicides, outlaws and their victims.  It’s a sad tribute to mankind, but … again, a piece of history.  And I do enjoy a good cemetery, grown over in some places by the crucifixion thorn. 

Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury and Frank McLaury were murdered on the streets of Tombstone in 1881, results of the OK Corral fight which took place between the Earp Brothers with Doc Holliday and the cowboys.  Three men were killed, and three were wounded. 

More than 250 graves ... known, unknown.

And at least one that was a mistake.  George Johnson bought a stolen horse and suffered the consequences.

Dutch Annie was known as the Queen of the Red Light District.
And some that don't have a story.
The graveyard was the final resting place for many and after 1884 a new area was opened.  Boothill was then neglected, with much of the old cemetery going back to nature.  By the late-1920s when Boothill was in a ruin, Tombstone citizens restored it from early burial records.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Copper Queen Mine calls

While we were having breakfast this morning (Thursday, March 20) we called and got a reservation to go on a Copper Queen Mine tour.  We were told to wear warm clothes as the temperature would be 47 degrees down in the mine.

We wandered around town and visited a museum in the morning, which was all about how Bisbee was started.  Of course, it was a mining town … known for copper, silver, gold and even turquoise (now called Bisbee Blue).  But copper was queen, and maybe king. 
The museum is the building in the middle of this photo, and the Copper Queen Hotel is to the right of it.  Back then, Bisbee was a hustling, bustling town.  (Photo courtesy of the Bisbee Museum, for which I don't have the proper name.)
We took our mine tour in the afternoon after learning a great deal in the museum, so this blog is a combination of information from both of our excursions. 

Two of the tour guides at the Queen.
All geared up to go down into the mine.

At the mine we were decked out with hard hats, battery-powered lights on belts, visibility vests and a flat brass round that had a number on it.  The brass tag was used by the miners each day when they went into the mines.  At the end of the day they returned the brasses to the office.  If one was missing, crews went down into the mine to look for them.  So it was kind of cool to be wearing one.  We rode bicycle-style on a little train that took us 1,600 feet into the mountain, and 940 feet into the bowels of the mine.  What a trip.
This is what the brass tags look like.
Our little train carrying maybe 45-50 of us. 

About the time copper was discovered here in Bisbee, everything contained copper … from a ship’s hull sheathing as the copper resists corrosion from the sea water and boring worms; roofing as copper lasts longer than other roofing material; cooking utensils as copper is an excellent conductor of heat; wire by the mile for generators, motors and transmission lines for electric and telephone; appliances and copper munitions.

To get the ore mined in Bisbee to the marketplace it was transported by freight wagons around the western edge of the Mule Mountains to Benson, where the nearest railroad was.  When the wagons returned to Bisbee, they hauled timber, coal and coke for the smelter, and other supplies.  The trips were shortened by 25 miles in 1881 when the New Mexico and Santa Fe Railroad connected with another railway and more when a toll road was built across the Mule Mountains. 
This is the type of wagon that was used to haul everything.
Between 1865 and 1900 there was a fivefold increase in railroad expansion, most of it west of the Mississippi.  Transporting all the goods, industrial supplies and people, railroads stimulated the economy and establishment of towns, of which Bisbee was one.
Railroad expansion was happening all over.  (Photo taken from the Bisbee Museum.)
Mining was a hard and treacherous business.  Men worked at various jobs with only dim candlelight, hammers and large “nails” or steels.  Conditions were nearly inhumane as the dust caused disease, there was a lack of light, the pounding of hammers, cave ins.  It was a business only for the very hardy.

Yet, miners sometimes broke into caves full of crystals, beauty that must have stunned them when they came upon it.  Or maybe they didn’t care as I would think being in the mines day-after-day, month-after-month, year-after-year would be full of misery, yet you had to earn a living to support yourself and your family.
Malachite, one of the items found down in the mines.
And about the time you thought the miner's plight could get no worse, here's where they did their business under the ground.  It was cleaned every three-to-four weeks.  UGH!!!
In the early days you had to use dynamite to extend a mine shaft or remove the ore.  Using dynamite required great skill.  A pattern of closely-spaced holes was drilled to hold the dynamite.  It was often done by one person, and called single-jacking.  He would use the steel and a four-pound hammer.  Double-jacking was a two-person team, one holding and rotating the steel, the other swinging the hammer.  And it was all done in very low light.
Single jacker ... one person, one steel, one hammer.
Each piece was put in a series of holes drilled by hand and a fuse was attached to each.  Different lengths of fuses were calculated and used to set the dynamite off in a precise and orderly fashion, with each stick going off in a domino effect.  If done properly, the rock would be broken up and then tossed forward out into the shaft where muckers would shovel it to be hauled away. 

Muckers had to shovel the ore to go to the carts.
Old ore cart.
By 1905 compressed-air drilling machines were first being used in Bisbee, and had completely replaced the hand drilling by 1908.  The speed improved productivity, but with it there was a silica dust produced which caused lung disease that resulted in many deaths.  It was then discovered when you used the drills with water, the dust problem was solved.
A stick of dynamite would be attached to the fuse and stuck into one of the holes drilled in the rock.

An old explosives box.
Our little train took us through the shafts, where you could have reached out and touched the walls on either side.  We were warned not to if we didn't want to lose a finger to the rough walls.
While I’d always thought that miners were miners, in fact, there were quite a number of jobs.  The miners were the ones who blasted the tunnels or mined the ore by drilling and setting off dynamite.  They also set timbers as they moved through the tunnels.  Timbermen reinforced the tunnel walls and shafts, muckers shoveled the blasted rock into ore cars for removal to the surface, trammers pushed the cars with the ore to a hoist used for hauling cars to the surface.  And there were still others who worked with tools.  It was way more complicated than thought.
There wasn't much room to walk through the tunnels. 
In 1907 mules were taken underground and used to haul the ore cars to the hoists to take them to the surface.  Mules were more economical than men because mules could pull four cars while men could only push one at a time. Mules are quite intelligent, quick to adapt, sturdy and generally even-tempered, which was why they were used rather than horses.  Interestingly, that intelligence came to the forefront in the Queen Mine as there was one mule who knew when the men tried to attach five cars to the mules rather than four.  She would sit down, as would the others, and they would not move.  So, four was the max.  The mules were treated well and a vet was on hand underground to treat them for minor injuries.  They were brought back to the surface each night as it was discovered they could go blind when left underground for lengths of time.
A mule in the mine with the four carts.  (Photo used from the Bisbee Museum.)
In earlier years miners brought out only the highest-grade ore (10 percent or better), but by the 1920s better equipment and higher prices made 6 percent ore worth digging.  A grade of 10 percent means that a ton (2,000 pounds) of ore contains 200 pounds of metal.  A grade of 6 percent means that there is 120 pounds of copper in a ton of ore.  These days with the latest in technology, some mining operations will mine ore with a grade as low as 0.1 percent, or 2 pounds of copper to a ton of ore.  What it all means is that the lower the grade of ore, the more rock you have to dig out to make money.
But it wasn't all bad.  Here's a typical miner's lunchbox.  Two sandwiches and an apple.  One sandwich was for the miner; the other for the rats.  The rats were fed because if some condition became the rats would run and abandon the shaft, as would the miners then., sometimes avoiding death or injury due to a cave in.  Also, notice the two red lengths in the bottom of the box, which is not sticks of dynamite.  It's pieces of copper.  Many miners took these home, and many early homes in Bisbee were entirely  plumbed with 9-inch lengths of copper pipe.  It was not frowned upon by the company.
Copper mines transformed the rough-and-tough Bisbee of the late 1800s to one of the largest and most cultured cities between St. Louis and San Francisco by the early 1900s.  Now it’s a place for artists, many of which seem to be throwbacks to the old hippie days, hawking their wares underneath the graffiti-covered stone walls.  It’s charming, it’s quaint, it’s a fun place to visit.  And it’s a way of life here now after the last of the underground mines closed years ago in 1975.  But not before the surrounding mountains yielded more than 8 billion pounds of copper, and also gold, silver, lead and zinc.  It was one of the most productive mining districts in the world. 
We found this outside while walking around Bisbee, a bed, chair and items painted to look like a room.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

On to the Copper Queen

Jaz and I spent the night at the historic Copper Queen Hotel, in Bisbee, Arizona, the southernmost mile-high city in the U.S.  It’s also eight miles from the Mexico border.

The Copper Queen Hotel is old, but beautiful and we really enjoyed our stay

Construction on the hotel by the Phelps Dodge Corp. started in 1898 with completion in 1902.  Initially it was thought the hotel would lure investors into town, but construction was difficult at best as they had to blast through rock and clear a large part of the mountainside in order for the building to begin.  Water had to be pumped uphill and the walls were 22-inches thick to help keep the hotel cool during the summer.  The mosaic tile came from Italy and installed throughout the entire first-floor lobby.  There’s also an antique safe still located behind the lobby desk that is said to have been used at the Copper Mine til the payroll cash outgrew the safe.  Wow, to have that much money.

The safe is there for all to see, but no money is visible.

Originally the first floor was heated by a fireplace, but now has central heating and air conditioning.  There 53 rooms and we were on the fourth floor.  We were glad there was an elevator installed in the 40s.  In fact, the Copper Queen is the only hotel that has an elevator.   There was also a pool installed in the 70s.

We didn't test the pool but it was quite attractive with murals painted on the walls around it.

The painting of Lily, also known as the Jersey Lily, is near life size and is a nude.  For my younger friends, I chose to crop.
There’s a saloon, which we did not frequent, but has a painting of Lily Langtry, a stage actress from Jersey, England, around the turn of the century.  She was the love interest of Judge Roy Bean of Texas (who, by the way, never met her), and perhaps also of Edward, Prince of Wales.  Lots of legends, and she saw many visitors here, including John Wayne and Lee Marvin.  We loved our room, which was large, modern enough and with a wonderfully-modern bathroom with white-tile floors

This one's for Hobbs.

John Wayne's signature page is outside of the room where he stayed.
The hotel is said to have three resident ghosts, although we were not privileged to see or hear them.

The first is a gentleman who it’s said you can smell cigar smoke either before or after seeing him.  He hangs out on the fourth floor near the Teddy Roosevelt room.  We were on the fourth floor near this room but did not receive a visit. 

The second is Julia Lowell, who was a lady of the evening who fell in love with one of her clients.  He did not return her love and she committed suicide in the hotel.  A room is named for her near where she practiced her profession.  Her presence is felt on the second and third floors and sometimes gentlemen may hear a voice whispering in their ears.
We finally found this room.
The third is a young boy, 8 or 9 years old, who drowned in the San Pedro River.  His spirit is supposed to have come back to the hotel where perhaps his mom or dad worked.  He’s never seen but quite mischievous, sometimes moving things in the rooms, running up and down the halls and giggling.  His presence is also felt on the second and third floors.

While we weren’t treated to any sightings or soundings, it’s quite the hotel and was immensely fun to stay in such a fine piece of history.  And it was very reasonable …

OMG!!  There are things going bump in the hallway and the lights just flickered.  Oh, only the maid.