February 16, 2018 Thursday – Dragoon Mountain Ranch to Bisbee & the Queen Mine

2018 Southern Arizona and Astronomy

The rain has stopped, but the skies are both cloudy and sunny today. We are hopeful it will clear a bit more by this evening so we can observe the night sky for only the second time this week. By all accounts this is unseasonably poor weather for this part of southern Arizona!

We drive to Bisbee to take the Queen Mine Tour by crossing Dragoon Mountain Ranch in a southwest direction to the St. David entrance. Once we are heading south on the paved road through Tombstone, we are hit with heavy rain most of the way to Bisbee.  We park at the mine tour entrance and manage to get on the noon tour – getting the last seats. We are given hardhats, vests and lights, and walk into the mine entrance to get onto a little electric train that takes us below, down the shafts. Our guide is Benny, and old miner who mainly helped build the underground railways. We see how the copper ore was blasted, the air drills and blasting that was used, and the system of shafts and railways that made it all possible. It is a complex of several mines all inside the same mountain, built on different levels, although the companies were eventually consolidated.

Playing the Fordson Major fuel tank guitar/cello
Playing the Fordson Major fuel tank guitar/cello

After the mine tour, we have a nice lunch at our host’s favourite cafe in the town. I get a cappuccino to take with me and then park the Tesla in the town’s public parking. We then split up to see what the town has to offer. I wander down the main street in the rain, keeping dry under my Tesla umbrella that came with the car rental.

There are lots of shops offering artwork and tacky stuff, so I decide to take a series of alleys looping back to the car, hoping to encounter more interesting sights. Sure enough I stumble upon a guy with a long grey beard playing a guitar/cello built from an old Ford F-series truck fuel tank! He is being interviewed and recorded with video as I sneak my own candid photo of him and his funky instrument. This makes this side trip so worthwhile!

We make a quick stop in Tombstone on the return trip, but decide to call it quits and return home, since it is still raining pretty hard.