Friday, July 09, 2010

Bisbee, Arizona Then and Now by Boyd Nicholl

Title: Bisbee, Arizona Then and Now
Author & Photographer: Boyd Nicholl
ISBN: 1931725101
Cowboy Miner Productions, 2003
Paperback, 80 pages

Genre: Arizona History, Photography
Rating: A
Source: purchased at the Singing Wind Bookshop, Benson, Arizona.

First Line: Enter Bisbee and turn back the clock.

Bisbee, Arizona was quite a place in its heyday: billions of tons of copper were dug from the ground, presidents visited, and there was always action in Brewery Gulch. Then the ore gave out. What saved old Bisbee for the enjoyment of so many today is the fact that there was no money to tear down and build fresh when residents might have desired.

This tiny volume is a gem for those who love history and like to see the passage of time. Author and photographer Boyd Nicholl is on the staff of the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum and so has had a wealth of "then" photos for this book. What truly impressed me was the fact that he went above and beyond the call with the "after" photos that he took: taking each from the same perspective and during the same weather conditions. It's amazing to see how little the wonderful old town has changed, and Nicholl's text also taught me several tidbits of Bisbee history.

This is a very welcome addition to the books on my Arizona History shelves, and although it may not tempt you to locate a copy and read it, if you're at all interested in your own state and local history, there are many "Then and Now" photography books of many places throughout the USA. If you let Google do the walking, I'll bet you'll find your own little gem in no time!


  1. I love Bisbee, and the day I arrived for my visit was Earth Day and all those aging (and younger) hippies were in the midst of it all. Quite an experience.

  2. How interesting! I'm wondering how far Bisbee is from the Phoenix area. My parents live there for part of the year and I usually visit. Bisbee seems like a good destination for a day trip.

  3. Misfit-- I've never been there for any sort of celebration... unless you count the time the Harley "convention" roared out of town. ;)

    Mary-- It would be a day trip from Tucson, but from Phoenix, it would be better as an overnight trip. Bisbee and Cochise County are so much fun that I'd hate to rush myself. :)

  4. Misfit's post made me laugh. The first time I was in Bisbee was in the early 70s. I seem to recall that the town was up for sale around that time.

  5. Have you been to Jerome, AZ and the museum there? The mine owner's home was turned into a museum some time ago and it looked like some artists had decided to take up residence in the town. I remember going through there when I was a child and worrying that the whole town was going to slide down the mountain. Next time we'll have to see Bisbee.

  6. Beth-- I don't think anyone bought it, and I'm glad. The buyers probably would've torn everything down... Philistines!

    Barbara-- Jerome used to be my favorite mining town until I discovered Bisbee. I love going through the shops. It's the first time I'd ever been to a place where the garage was on the ground floor and the rest of the house went down the mountainside underneath. Spectacular views in Jerome... all the way to Sedona!


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