The charming town of Bisbee, Arizona is proclaimed as “The West’s Best Small Town to Live.” This isn’t idle speculation.
In recent years, Bisbee has been voted the Best Historic Small Town in America by both USA Today readers and Sunset Magazine. It’s also been named as an “alive” place to retire and one of America’s quirkiest towns by the AARP publication Modern Maturity.
My daughter Jill and I spent a few hours there while I was visiting with her family a couple of weeks ago.
The day was lovely, not too warm and not too chilly. The sun shone upon us so eating lunch on the patio of the Copper Queen Hotel was perfect.
But first we visited the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum. The town, founded in 1880, was home to copper, gold, and silver miners. Since 1929, Bisbee has been the county seat for Cochise County.
I could have spent most of the day in the museum. The exhibits were fascinating. Here are two of my favorites: first a photo collage of one of my favorites–a lunchbox showing what a miner might have taken home with him at the end of the day; second a “movie in the window” showing what it was like for children to grow up in a 19th century mining town.
As we window-shopped the main street of the historic downtown area, I found this storefront. Jill had never heard of Woolworth’s but I remember when it was one of the stores frequented by my parents (though that was in Columbus, Ohio–many miles from Bisbee).
Though we browsed through a couple of thrift and antique stores, and found some really cool vintage items, I think our favorite place was the used bookstore.
Jill found a huge yet very inexpensive tome about Oscar Wilde and I picked up a copy of Blue Highways: A Journey Into America by William Least Half-Moon. We picked up three or four other books, too.
As I needed to add anything else to my “to be read” stack.
But back to Bisbee and a few trivia notes.
John Wayne was a frequent visitor to the Copper Queen Hotel.
Remember Wilson Wilson, the neighbor behind the fence on Tim Allen’s Home Improvement? That was actually Earl Hindman who was born in Bisbee.
The town has been used for several movies and television shows, including both the original and 2007 remake of 3:10 to Yuma and Young Guns II.
The town’s official motto is: An American Original.
Jill and I enjoyed our visit to Bisbee, and we joked about moving there while enjoying hot chocolate at a local café. What place would get your vote as the “Best Small Town in America” and why? If it’s not your hometown, would you move there given the chance?
Milne, born on January 18, 1882, was inspired by his son’s stuffed animals.
Christopher Robin named his teddy bear after Winnie, a black bear he liked to visit at the London Zoo, and Pooh, a swan.
During my first (and only) trip to New York City in May 2015, I saw Christopher Robin’s toys in the children’s section of the New York Public Library.
As a Pooh fan, I was absolutely thrilled!
Here are three of my photos from that visit.
A close-up of the original Winnie-the-Pooh
Just to clarify, National Winnie-the-Pooh Day is tomorrow, Wednesday, January 18th.
So make plans now to grab a pot of honey and sing Happy Birthday to Mr. Milne.
My writing group announces our achievements with Tigger bounces. But if I had to choose one favorite Milne character, I think I’d choose Piglet.
Who’s your favorite?
Tombstone is famous for the 1881 thirty-second gunfight at the O.K. Corral between the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday on one side and Billy Claiborne, Ike and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLaury on the other.
The shootout has inspired books and movies, including the 1993 Tombstone starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer.
A series of framed drawings at the historic Cochise County Courthouse, which is now a museum and visitor’s center, shows the progression of the gunfight though it happened so quickly no one is certain what transpired.
Tombstone is about more than a gunfight, though. Nicknamed “The Town too Tough to Die,” it was founded in 1879 and prospered because of silver mining. Two major fires devastated the town in 1881 and again in 1882. But it was the drop in silver production that sent inhabitants scurrying for greener passages.
Over a hundred years later, tourism has replaced mining, cattle rustling, and gambling as the major industry.
Our first stop was the Bird Cage Theater, home of the longest poker game ever.
For eight years, five months, and three days a variety of players wagered at the table in the basement. You can still see it, and it’s almost eerie to think that historical characters such as Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson actually sat in that very place.
So here’s a photo of the O.K. Corral re-enactors waiting to shoot it out.
After touring the Bird Cage and eating lunch, we walked around town, visited the Courthouse, and went into a few stores.
Our next stop was Boot Hill.
Those who were killed at the O.K. Corral shootout are buried here. What we found most heartbreaking, though, was how many of the stone markers said “Unknown.”
Six years after the Earp/Clanton gunfight, there was another shootout near the O.K. Corral. I wrote about William Cornell, a copper and ranching mogul, who sought revenge for his daughter’s tragic death at Midwest Almanac.
This is my first trip to this part of the country, but it won’t be last because my two grandgirls live here now. To this Midwest gal, who has lived most of my adult life in the Sunshine State, the landscape is very different.
But I like it!
I wouldn’t say Arizona was my dream destination (no offense, Arizonians!), but I’m enjoying my time here very much.
What state are you eager to visit?