Dots Diner

Scenic spots near open-pit mines……

Richard Charpentier Airstream Blogs, Arizona, Ghost Towns, Photography 7 Comments

Are there really such places?  Do open-pit mines really add to the landscape and scenery?

Most would tell you “No, absolutely not.”

bisbeedayone-3I’m not like most, and I’m here to tell you, I found a place near an open-pit mine that is just the cutest little place you ever did see.

Weeks ago when I decided to point the Airstream toward the Tucson area (must get the Dometic Factory Recall addressed) I asked an old friend about Bisbee and the Shady Dell Campground.  The answer was pretty short.  Not the most scenic spot in the world.  Right next to an open-pit mine.


Still, I wasn’t deterred.  I’ve heard too much about the town of Bisbee.  And I’ve heard too much about Shady Dell.  I had to see both places, and they are within a stones throw of Tucson.  So today I set course for the Shady Dell Campground and the town of Bisbee.  Gotta say, I’m happy on both counts!

Oh, and we’re less than a stones throw from the Mexican border.  This evening while running to the gas station I saw the border in the distance.  All lit up, patrolled, etc.  Not far at all.  Should I make a run for the border???

The trip down was fairly uneventful.  I did get a little stressed out in the Phoenix area.  I hate navigating the Airstream around giant concrete slabs in construction zones, and 17 was loaded with the blocks.  Let me ask you something……  Where do you pull off when the breakdown lane is barricaded off completely for mile after mile?  Better yet, if you have troubles and the breakdown lane is blocked off you think of the next exit, right?  Well, how about having multiple exits closed and barricaded, and having the breakdown lanes totally closed off as well?

Yeah, mildly stressful.  And you get to feel just a tad boxed in!

bisbeedayone-1After exiting the Phoenix area I eased my grip on the steering wheel.  Still, the smog hung in for the whole ride down to Tuscon!  Seriously, yellow thick air for well over 100 miles.  Glad I live in Prescott!

Finally, exiting and heading south through Benson, Toombstone, and finally Bisbee showed signs of improvement.  No crazed barricades.  No blocked exits.  The yellow haze had exited.  And finally, a town I’ve been looking forward to seeing came into view.

Did I metion the insane people trying to pass on a two lane road when 3 horse trailers blocked us all up?  No?  Well, that’s good that I didn’t mention it.  That was a stressor as well.  I’ve never seen so many drivers do so many dumb things in a 30 minute period!

Bisbee was quite the site rolling in.  A large scale “Jerome.”  The town was created as a mining town, and it has weathered the years.  And exactly as my friend said, right after the town the mining operations sprawled out in front of me!  A huge open pit going down into the side of the mountain.  Still, I found it interesting.  Without the mining operations there would be no Bisbee.  There would be no ghost towns to see…..

As quickly as the town popped up, it then fell into my rear view mirror.  No way I’m trying to navigate the small city streets and sharp turns with an Airstream in tow.  The first stop.  Shady Dell Campground.

bisbeedayone-2I’m happy to say the campground is much more than I expected after the initial description provided by my friend.  Of course, the park is under new management.  The new owners are incredibly nice, hospitable, and they were happy to take my call this morning when I decided this is where I’d be parking for the next 2 nights.  And yes, right across the way there are mining operations.  For me that means some cool photo opportunities.  Seriously, you don’t get to see this stuff every day!

More about Shady Dell later…..

The Airstream was unhitched and setup in record time.  A small lunch was prepared and then the Titan was fired up once more.  I really needed to get a closer look at the town I just bypassed.

Amazingly enough parking was easy to find in town.  Narrow roads, winding back streets, tight alley ways.  Just like Jerome only super sized!

Sadira and I walked Bisbee for hours.  We each lugged our cameras along in case we found some interesting sites to shoot!  Of course, we found many!  Very cool town.  Very cool photo opportunities.

One thing kept bothering me though……

If only we weren’t so close to that open-pit mind.  It tugged at my mind as I shot scenic photo after scenic photo.  See, I knew somewhere around the corner that mine lurked….  Sure, it wasn’t in any of my photos…but I knew it was there!

By the way, you should know this is all tongue and cheek.  For those of you who don’t recognize it, I’m telling you now.  Tongue and cheek!  🙂

We did not cover the town by any stretch of the imagination.  With Jerome you can literally walk the whole town in a few hours.  Bisbee is going to take some doing.


bisbeedayone-4My walk around Bisbee revealed it to be an extremely cool spot to visit.  Interesting architecture, interesting landscape, and the knowledge that this populated ghost town has been in western lore for quite some time.  While Toombstone churned out silver and headstones, Bisbee heavily produced copper ore for the entire country.  The history of the area is quite intriguing, and the history continues to unfold as mining operations are running once more in the area.

If you hadn’t noticed commodity prices, they’ve gone up.  So, the mining has revived down here.

Bisbee even had a little something for me.  Yes, I found several fun shots that made my day.  Shooting the fire hydrant and narrow road way I knew I’d found one that I would like.  Most likely this shot won’t end up in the gallery.  The “pushed” HDR look that I enjoy occasionally isn’t on the best seller list.  But come on, the shot is pretty darned cool.  See the window reflections on the tan building?  Check out the doorways.  Just too fun for me.

bisbeedayone-5Glad to say I found more than one shot that really worked for me.  In fact, I found two, and on the same narrow road!  All I lacked for these photos were some whispy clouds to give a heavy and moody sky look.

I know, these probably went to far for the tastes of many, but I’m really enjoying both photos!  C’est la vie!

Of course, as you’ve seen throughout the post, Bisbee is a photogenic area, and I’ve merely scratched the tip of the ice berg.  I shot additional photos today, but I have yet to review them.  I went after the photos that were on my mind while shooting them, and I’m happy to present them this evening.

Wonder what will happen when I sort the rest?

The best part is that we hadn’t even covered a 10th of the town.  I’m looking forward to more wandering in town tomorrow, and maybe even Saturday morning!

Of course, I’ve got several ghost towns on my list of to-do’s as well.  Going to be a busy couple of days for sure!

Oh, and sorry, I’ll have to write a whole other post about the Shady Dell Campground later.  I’m tired.

bisbeedayone-7Here’s a photo to peak your interest though……  😉

Comments 7

  1. Isn’t it just absolutely enchanting here? I don’t know what’s better…the Shady Dell and it’s vintage quaintness or Bisbee and it’s vintage fantatasticness (yes, that’s a word thankyouverymuch 😉 ) It’s so fun to see such a vital old town very much intact…even with the really cool Copper Queen mine pit…all the holiday twinkle lights are making it that much more inviting (not that I’d want to jump or anything…do you think that’s why it’s surrounded by such large fences?)

    And thank you for starting our 2009 out with a bang…I can’t think of a place I’d rather be, or a person I’d rather be with. Even with the crazy road trucks and cars or the 20 suicidal coyotes that we saw on the way down here, or your slight nerves navigating the Phoenix roadways (you did just fine…we’re safe and sound after all) all of those “hazards” aside, it’s shaping up to be a wonderful trip indeed.

    I can’t wait to go back to Bisbee and meander around the streets and shops (because I’m sure there’s even more pictures to be taken and fun things to discover) not to mention all the other wonderful Southern Arizona sites to discover as well…

  2. We are going to get some open pit mining pix, aren’t we? I didn’t know that the mine was working again. Next thing we know, Jerome will be up & digging again.

  3. Post

    Mine pics are on schedule for today. Along with many other pics! Late riser here today, slept in until 7:05. Boiling water now for some tea, then we’ll be off and running!!!

  4. As always Rich, your photos are making me very jealous!!! I can’t wait to see all the new ones in the gallery!!!!

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