Skip to main content

Throwback Thursday; Bisbee, AZ and Old US 80

In Cochise County, Arizona along an old segment of US Route 80 designated as Arizona State Route 80 is the old mining town of Bisbee.






Bisbee is located in the Mule Mountains at an elevation of 5,538 feet above sea level.  Back in the early days of Arizona travel wasn't as direct as it is now.  Often roads followed old wagon trails from the major population centers of the time.  In the case of US Route 80 when it was originally plotted out it took the path of the Old Spanish Trail.  This alignment consisted of a huge southwestern swing into New Mexico to Douglas.  From Douglas US 80 swung northwest through the classic mining communities of Bisbee and Tombstone before swinging west to Tucson.  US 80 also took another major swing north from Tucson to Phoenix rather than westward to Yuma.  US 80 was such in impractical route that I-8 largely took the path of AZ 84 west from Tuscon to Gila Bend and I-10 from Benson to the New Mexico state line.  The path of US 80 makes much more logical sense looking at the 1927 State Highway Map of Arizona:

1927 Arizona/New Mexico State Highway Maps Part A

1927 Arizona/New Mexico State Highway Map Part B

Bisbee was founded back in 1880 as a gold, silver, and copper mining community.  Since 1929 Bisbee has been the Cochise County seat which was originally in Tombstone.  Early Bisbee centered around the Copper Queen Mine which was in operation from 1880 until 1985.  Bisbee's mining industry survived far longer than it did in Tombstone and largely moved to open pit mining in the 1950s.  The Lavender Pit is the most obvious example of the open pit days with the massive hole easily observed on the south side of AZ 80.





Bisbee's population peaked out near 1960 at about 10,000 residents.  After Lavender Pit closed in 1974 followed by the Copper Queen in 1985 Bisbee began to decline.  The current population of Bisbee is approximately 5,000 residents and doesn't show much signs of slowing any time soon.

US 80 had a huge alignment shift through Bisbee prior to the completion of the Mule Pass Tunnel in 1958.  Early US 80 used Main Street and Tombstone Canyon Road west through Bisbee on an approach of Mule Pass.   US 80 used West Boulevard and Old Divide Road climb over Mule Pass.  By 1989 US 80 had been truncated out of Arizona and the route through Bisbee had become AZ 80.

Bridgehunter.com on the Mule Pass Tunnel

USends on US 80 end points

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The original alignment of California State Route 1 in San Francisco

In 2019 the Gribblenation Blog Series covered the history of the Hyde Street Pier and the original surface alignment of US Route 101 in San Francisco.  Given the Golden Gate Bridge opened to traffic in May of 1937 coupled with the fact that the Sign State Routes had been announced in August of 1934 there were still some open questions regarding the original highway alignments in San Francisco.  Namely the question of this blog is; where was California State Route 1 prior to the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge?  Thanks the to the discovery of a 1936 Shell Highway Map of San Francisco and the California Highways & Public Works the answer can be conveyed clearly.     Part 1; the history of early California State Route 1 in San Francisco The genesis point for California State Route 1 ("CA 1") in San Francisco dates to 1933.  1933 was significant due to the State Legislature allowing the Division of Highways to assume maintenance of highways in Cities for the first time. 

Former California State Route 24 through the Kennedy Tunnel and Old Tunnel Road

 Near the eastern City Limit of Oakland high in the Berkeley Hills one can be find the ruins of the Kennedy Tunnel at the intersection of Old Tunnel Road and Skyline Boulevard.  The Kennedy Tunnel opened in 1903 and was the first semi-modern automotive corridor which crossed the Alameda County-Contra Costa County Line.  The Kennedy Tunnel even saw service briefly as part of California State Route 24 before the first two bores of the Caldecott Tunnel opened in 1937.   Part 1; the history of the Kennedy Tunnel The genesis point for California State Route 24 ("CA 24") being extended into the San Francisco Bay Area begins a couple years before the Sign State Routes were announced when Legislative Route Number 75 ("LRN 75") was added by 1931 Legislative Chapter 82.  According to cahighways.org the original definition of LRN 75 was as simply "Walnut Creek to Oakland."  The instigator for the adoption of LRN 75 was construct a replacement route for the Ken

Santa Clara County Route G8 and the New Almaden Quicksilver Mine

Santa Clara County Route G8 is a 29.38 mile County Sign Route which is part of the San Francisco Bay Area transportation corridor.  Santa Clara County Route G8 begins at California State Route 152 near the outskirts of Gilroy and terminates at former US Route 101 at 1st Street/Monterey Road near downtown San Jose.  Santa Clara County Route G8 incorporates the notable Almaden Expressway and is historically tied to the New Almaden Quicksilver Mine.   (Santa Clara County Route G8 map image courtesy CAhighways.org) Part 1; the history of Santa Clara County Route G8, the Almaden Road corridor and New Almaden Mine The present corridor of Santa Clara County Route G8 ("G8") began to take shape with the emergence of the Almaden Expressway.  According to the October 1960 California Highways & Public Works Unit 1 of the Almaden Expressway opened in November of 1959 between Alma Avenue near downtown San Jose south to the Guadalupe River as part of a Federal Highway Aid Secondary pro