In almost 100 years of continuous production before the Bisbee mines closed in 1975, the local mines produced metals valued at $6.1 billion (at 1975 price) one of the largest production valuations of all the mining districts in the world.
This staggering amount of wealth came from the estimated production of 8,032,352,000 lbs of copper, 2,871,786 ounces of gold, 77,162,986 ounces of silver, 304,627,600 lbs of lead and 371,945,900 lbs of zinc!
I want a gold one!!!
Suiting up for the tour.
While not as fast or fun as Disneyland’s Thunder Mountain, our rail ride down into the mine was still a blast.
Getting bossy in the dark.
At its peak, the mines included more than 2,500 miles of tunnels. That’s a lot of underground exploration.
The rail carts make three stops within the mine.
The ghost of 1917.
Mining trains carried us 1,500 feet down into the mines where the temperature dipped as low as 47 degrees. It was a little warmer in the shaft where this thermometer hung.
I still prefer to explore abandoned mines not affiliated with a tour. Having this many people with flashlights is a little much.
Ore Cart Loaders
When you gotta go, you gotta go.
Heading back to surface.
Nearby, you’ll find the Lavender Pit, which is part of the Copper Queen Mine, run by the Phelps Dodge Corporation from 1879 to 1975. Mining took place in underground tunnels and shafts until 1951 when it was determined by Harrison Lavender, the then-manager of the Copper Queen Branch of Phelps Dodge, that an open pit mine would be an economical way to increase ore yield. The resulting Lavender Pit was mined in 50 foot benches created by loading holes drilled to a 60-foot depth with 1,200 pounds of powder charge. Mining in the pit stopped in 1974 and all mining operations ceased in the Copper Queen Mine in 1975 when the price of copper plummeted. The abandoned pit covers 300 acres, is 950 feet deep, and is a result of the removal of 351 million tons of material.