Mining played a huge role in bringing new people to the region and the colorful history of this enterprise can be found in Bisbee. Located south of Safford on State Highway 80 (approximately 100 miles), it is well known for the historical reconstructions. Bisbee is one of the best-preserved, turn-of-the-century towns in the United States with much of its architecture unchanged since the early 1900s.
The historic buildings now house art galleries, antique shops, and fine restaurants. The Bisbee Trolley and walking tours from the Chamber of Commerce take you past old brick buildings lining narrow, winding streets, patterned much like old San Francisco. Take time to visit the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, featuring Americas first rural Smithsonian Institution affiliate exhibits, outlining the areas rich mining history and displaying many of the minerals found in the region.
The Queen Mine offers Arizonas only underground mine tour, complete with your own hard-hat and miners lamp. Modern mining techniques are also within easy reach of Safford at the Phelps-Dodge copper mine in Morenci.
The worlds largest open pit mining operation, the Morenci mining operation stretches over 50 square miles. An entire mountain has been dug away over the past century with 16 billion pounds of copper produced.
Viewed from the rim, six-story tall dump trucks appear like toys on the spiraling mine access roads. The shear size and constant working motion are overwhelming to most visitors.
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