Bisbee, Arizona. Mining town turned tourist town
A Gal Walks into a Bar…
I was sitting at the bar of an overcrowded well-recommended restaurant in Tucson, Arizona when the guy in the next stool asked me where I was from. Well, he was a local and I was traveling. He told me there was a cute mountain town, Bisbee, just south of Tucson in the cool mountains just 8 miles from the Mexican border and, after dinner, off I went.
Little did I know that Bisbee would provide the inspiration for my new romantic suspense series, APACHE PROTECTORS: TRIBAL THUNDER, beginning in January 2017.
Tombstone, AZ was on the way. We stopped, but I wasn’t inspired by the tourist town. The real Tombstone mostly burned down just after the OK Corral. The graveyard there is wonderful and I highly recommend that. No inspiration struck me there, so back in the car and heading south.
There’s a nearly deserted main street beside the Lavender Pit south of Bisbee
Bisbee – “Mayberry on Acid”
I never heard of Bisbee but they have t-shirts for sale in the shops there that say “Mayberry on Acid.” It’s a strange and wonderful place and, for me, an inspirational one. This town was founded on copper, mining company town, running shifts 24/7. Cave-ins. Strikes and Union-busting–The whole shebang. The buildings all perch on the mountain with the firm but precarious hold of a mountain goat. The place is steeped in history and emerging as a resort town because it is higher, cooler and has cleaner air than Tucson and Phoenix.
The Copper Queen Hotel – is said to be haunted by three ghosts
The Copper Queen Hotel
We visited the mining museum, did a walkabout and checked in to the Copper Queen, a really interesting hotel that resides across the street from the original entrance to the Copper Queen Mine. This hotel is purported to have three resident spirits and is a popular destinations for paranormal enthusiasts.
The Lavender Pit -the fenced remains of an open pit copper mine
The Lavender Pit
The first mine, The Copper Queen, was underground. It was closed as unprofitable to be replaced by The Lavender Mine nearby. This open-pit mine closed in 1974, so it is basically just a huge 900 foot deep hole in the earth. A mountain that has been moved, uprooted and the tailings spread over miles. The entire thing is fenced with much signage to Keep Out and No Trespassing, punctuated with threats to prosecute and garnished with razor wire.
I was reminded of the not-so-familiar verse in Woody Guthrie’s popular song; This Land is Your Land.
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
The Lavender Pit Offices on the edge of the cliff
The Ah-Ha Moment!
It was here, standing on the lip of a huge empty hole, humming “This Land is Your Land”, that inspiration struck!
What an eyesore! Also what an environmental catastrophe. And, do I see turquoise just inside the fence? And where did they keep the blasting cord and canisters they used to shake the rock loose from the walls of this pit?
The bartender at the Copper Queen told me that some migrating geese landed in the standing yellow water at the very bottom of the pit and died instantly.
Yeah – this mine that was the livelihood of the town, did so at great cost to the landscape. Was it a violation of the earth or an industry providing the country necessary raw materials?
The Unanswerable Question
And there is the crux of my series. We need to protect the environment but at what cost? When is it right to defend the earth and at what point does this become radical extremism? Most of us recycle, but would you attack a whaling boat?
I see developments eating farms in Pennsylvania. I see our coast lines gobbled up by rising condominiums. But I live in a condo and I like the proximity of the beach. I didn’t like that hole in the earth. It felt wrong. But I like my copper pipes in my condo.
I love a problem where both sides have a winning argument–where neither is all right or all wrong. I tackled illegal immigration with a book (Shadow Wolf #1 in the Apache Protector series). In Apache Protectors: Tribal Thunder, I explore man’s need for raw materials, energy and land versus man’s duty to protect the earth. It’s a whopper of a problem.
I wonder what Woody Guthrie would think. And more importantly, I wonder what my readers will think.
I’m a long time contributor to many charities, environmental rights being one. I’m also a gold prospector and love nothing better than digging a hole in the ground to find precious metals, crystals and other treasures. I walk the beach to search for hatching sea turtles and guard them from birds as they run for the sea. Then I go back to my air-conditioned apartment to congratulate myself on a job well done. They hypocrisy of this does not escape me.
If you’d like to order a copy of one or all of the Apache Protectors: Tribal Thunder series, I’ve provided the links I have as of this writing:
Turquoise Guardian #1 January 2017
Eagle Warrior #2 February 2017
Firewolf #3 May 2017
The Warrior’s Way #4 June 2017