Behold the entrance to the Queen Mine, a labyrinth of old mine shafts below Bisbee, Arizona, that produced six billion dollars worth of copper, gold, silver, lead, and zync between 1870 and 1970. Now a museum, it's one of the best mine tours in the country, if you're into these kinda things. We are, so kick back and join us as we descend 1,500 feet into the bowels of one of the most famous mines in North America.
About 200 feet inside the mountain, our tour guide stopped the mini-train and asked if everyone was okay and said now was the time to speak if claustrophobia was taking over. We were doing just fine until the power of suggestion kicked in; suddenly we were stricken with unwanted thoughts about earthquakes and recent mine tradgedies and bad earth gas. This lasted for 30 seconds or so, until we smiled at the thought of how much our attorneys could sue this place for in event of a catastrophe.
Claustrophobia can be a spooky headspace, for sure. We've never succumbed to it, but have witnessed other people suddenly wig out when trapped inside a confined space. Matter of fact, just a couple of days prior at the Titan II missile museum (see below posting), some dude freaked while in the launch control room and had to be rushed out. In our opinion, the Queen Mine, with its rotten timber cribbing holding up narrow shafts filled with dank air offered 100x the impetus for someone to go bat shit.
Our tour guide stopped several times along the way, including a huge cavern called a stope, where miners had removed thousands of tons of rock to access a rich vein of copper ore. We took some photos but the cavern was so massive and dark, nothing turned out. Here we have the guide explaining how the blasting process occurred: holes were drilled 7 feet into rock and filled with sticks of TNT. Then Kaboom! The next several hours would be spent loading blasted rock onto outgoing train carts and building cribbing to support the walls from caving in. Working in the mine was a constant cycle of drilling holes, blowing up rock, hauling out the rock, and then hauling in timbers to keep the ceiling from dropping on everyone.
Over its 100 year operation, the Queen Mine produced 8,032,352,000 lbs of copper, 2,871,786 ounces of gold, 77,162,986 ounces of silver, 304,627,600 lbs of lead and 371,945,900 lbs of zinc. No exact figure exists on how much poop was hauled out over the century of operation, but this butt dropper cart, with dual leather seating and foot rest, probably carried away more nuggets in one week than all the silver and gold combined.