Sunday, December 4, 2011

Haunted Bisbee Arizona

In 1825 Hugh Jones discovered a faint green line of copper ore in the Mule Mountains in southern Arizona. He was looking for silver, so he ignored this strain and went on. What Jones didn’t know was that he had stumbled upon the richest pocket of copper in the world.

George Warren
In the late 1870s a civilian scout by the name of Jack Dunn was on a scouting mission with the U.S. Calvary. He and this troop were camped for the night near a spring in the Mule Mountains. While taking a walk after eating Dunn picked up several interesting rocks near what is today Castle Rock. 

Too busy at the time to do anything about it Dunn later filed a claim and confided his find to George Warren, a prospector. The two men became partners agreeing Warren would search the area for more claims.

Warren on his way stopped to visit friends, he got drunk and revealed Dunn’s discovery. When Dunn checked back later he found that Warren had betrayed him, he and several other men were already working in the area. When Dunn discovered that Warren had filed additional claims and left him out of the deal, he sold his claim for $4,000 and left the area.

George Warren later bet one of his claims on a foot race, which he lost. This claim eventually became known as the “Copper Queen,” which over the years produced millions of dollars in copper ore. Ironically, Warren is cited as the “founder” of the mining industry in the Mule Mountains—Dunn’s part is lost to history. Warren’s image is on Arizona’s state seal.

As more claims were staked, several mining camps in the Mule Mountains were established, two of these were Mule Gulch and Brewery Gulch. These camps nestled amidst the mountains were later incorporated into the town of Bisbee, Arizona.

By the 1880s investors were sought for the area, one of these was Judge Dewitt Bisbee who purchased the Copper Queen Mine. The town of Bisbee was named after him. The judge lived in San Francisco and ironically never visited his namesake. 

Phelps Dodge Corporation became a dominant force among the investors and eventually took over the entire operation under the name Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company.

The Queen Mine was mined for almost 100 years, by the time it closed down in 1975 the medals it produced were valued at 6.1 million dollars. 

Besides 8 billion pounds of copper the mine also produced 2.8 million ounces of gold, 77 million pounds of silver, 30 million pounds of lead, and 371 million pounds of zinc.

While in production the Queen Mine attracted a melting pot of immigrant miners from around the world. These men labored beneath the Mule Mountains to feed the endless demand for copper and electricity. 

Bisbee’s Evergreen Cemetery reflects this human history. Italians, Hispanics, Serbs, Welsh, Irish, and Cornish miners all came to Bisbee looking for opportunity.

In the early 1900s, Bisbee was the largest town between St. Louis and San Francisco. The city and its surrounding areas had a population of 20,000 people. 

Unlike the rough mining camps nearby, Bisbee was cultured. It had Arizona’s first community library, opera house, ball fields, and golf course. Bisbee became known as “Little San Francisco.”

In contrast, Brewery Gulch one of the adjoining mining camps mentioned above had 47 saloons and its fair share of “shady ladies.” It was considered the liveliest spot between El Paso and San Francisco.

In 1951 the Lavender Pit was opened. It is named after the Mine Manager at the time, Harrison Lavender not the lavender colored hues that reflect off its walls. 

It was the first open pit mine in Arizona and was developed to increase yield. In this pit was found some of the most exquisite pieces of turquoise in the southwest. 

This by-product of the mine was for years carried out casually in the miners’ lunchboxes. This turquoise is much sought after today because of its extreme blue color, hardness, and rarity--since the pit closed in 1974.

Today, underneath Bisbee and the Mule Mountains there are over 1500 miles of tunnels and shafts. Fantastic underground tours are offered. Guests don yellow slickers and miner hard hats and are escorted by guides who were once miners in the Copper Queen.

Bisbee is considered to be very haunted. Two hotels, in particular, have interesting resident ghosts. Along the Tombstone Canyon Road, there is a natural landmark towering over the road. It is a limestone formation known as Castle Rock.

In October of 1935, Mrs. Mabel Watters, age 34, was walking home alone. Attired in her favorite black dress, she strolled along the sidewalk on Tombstone Canyon Road. 

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m., across the street from where Mrs. Mabel walked, was a large boarding house--today this boarding house is The Inn at Castle Rock.

As Mrs. Mabel passed, Norman Duke was sitting at one of the boarding house windows cleaning his gun, the gun accidentally discharged and a stray bullet shot across the street striking Mrs. Mabel in the back of the neck near her ear. 

Witnesses said she took a few steps and then fell over backward onto the sidewalk. She died instantly. This incident was declared an accident officially.

Ever since visitors to Bisbee have reported feeling a presence of a young woman as they walk past Castle Rock. Guests at The Inn of Castle Rock have witnessed a ghost of a women going from room to room searching for something. 

Over the years people have speculated that this is Mabel looking for her murderer. Limestone is known to help spirits manifest—it also retains memories that can cause residual hauntings.

Another haunted location in Bisbee is the Copper Queen Hotel. It was built between 1898 and 1902 in the Italian style. To build it, the side of the mountain had to be blasted away. 

The Phelps Dodge Corporation wanted a place where dignitaries and investors could relax in luxury. In its time the Copper Queen was considered the most modern hotel in the west.

Old Copper Queen
Three ghosts reside at the Copper Queen. The first is a gentleman who has long hair and a beard. He is always seen wearing a black cape and a top hat. 

Several witnesses have smelled the aroma of his cigar just before they see him or right after. He often appears in doorways or as a shadow in some of the rooms located on the fourth floor near the Teddy Roosevelt Room.

The second ghost is probably the most famous. In life, she was Julia Lowell. She is described as being in her early thirties. She was a lady of the evening from Brewery Gulch who often entertained her clients in the rooms at the Copper Queen. 

It is said that she fell madly in love with one of these clients but when she told him he no longer wanted anything to do with her. Julia then took her own life at the hotel.

Her presence is felt on the west side of the building on the second and third floors. Some male guests have reported that they hear a female voice whispering in their ear. 

At other times she is seen in rooms dancing provocatively. She is seen most often at the foot of guests’ beds. Several witnesses have reported that she seemed to enjoy playing with their feet. Yet other witnesses have seen a wispy white smoke they feel is Julia. 

The third ghost is that of a young boy aged eight or nine. It is said he hangs out at the hotel because one of his parents worked there. He drowned in the nearby San Pedro River. 

He is by far the most mischievous of the three ghosts. Guests who have stayed on the west side of the hotel on the second and third floors report encounters with him. He startles guests because he likes to move objects from one table to the next. 

Many guests have heard footsteps running through the halls. They also report hearing him giggle. Unlike the other two ghosts, no one ever sees this boy they only hear him. 

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