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TITLE: Copper Queen Mine

In less than a century, from 1881 to 1975, approximately 3.6 billion kg (8 billion lb) of copper were removed from the Bisbee area. That is enough to form a cube of copper with each side the length of a football field! The Bisbee area also yielded silver, gold, lead, and zinc.

[Illustration: Copper Queen orebody.]

The Copper Queen orebody is about 64 m (210 ft) long, 54 m (177 ft) wide, and 107 m (351 ft) deep.

Minerals From Bisbee
The Bisbee mining locality is famous worldwide for the diversity and magnificence of its minerals, which are favorites of collectors. Bisbee has produced over 200 kinds of minerals—most notably azurite, malachite, and other copper minerals.

[Photo: Azurite]


[Photo: Malachite]


[Photo: Cuprite]


When Copper Was Queen
Bisbee's history is laced with action, danger, and plenty of hardship.

[Photo: Prospector camp in Mule Mountains.]

In 1877, copper was discovered in an uninhabited canyon in the Mule Mountains of southeastern Arizona. In just a few decades Bisbee grew from a prospector’s camp to...


[Photo: Downtown Bisbee showing many stores and store-front signs.]

...a lively boom town. In 1905, it was Arizona’s largest city. The reason for this meteoric growth was simple...


[Photo: New York, NY showing an enormous array of electrical lines.]

...the age of electricity had dawned. Here, copper wires light up turn of the century New York City. Meanwhile, back at Bisbee...


[Photo: Miners in a shaft with candles burning on their hats.]

...miners worked by candlelight. Each miner was issued three candles per 10 hour shift. Once the copper ore had been drilled and blasted from hard rock...


[Photo: Mule hauling ore.]

...mules hauled it to hoists, which lifted the ore to the surface. In the early 1900s, about a hundred mules were kept in Bisbee’s underground tunnels.

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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Department of Mineral Sciences website Credits