Southern Arizona western travel...

Adventures in Southeastern Arizona

To many people, a vacation to Arizona means enjoying the sun and perhaps a game of golf in and around the state's two largest cities, Phoenix and Tucson.

If you have an interest in history, and enjoy getting off the busy highways, you might wish to take a trip to Cochise County, which is located in the southeast corner of Arizona.

In many ways, Cochise County embodies what Arizona was all about back when it was a Territory - wide open spaces and a great independent spirit.

The best way to take in Cochise County would be to visit the historic towns of Tombstone, Bisbee and Benson.

The historic railroad town of Benson is just off Interstate 10, approximately fort five miles east of Tucson. Situated in the center of the San Pedro River Valley, Benson is where you will find Kartchner Caverns State Park. In the Territorial era, Benson was one of the scheduled stops on the Pony Express and the Butterfield Overland Stage Coach Route. Along with the birth of the transcontinental railroad, Benson soon became a busy railroad town.

Twenty miles south on US Highway 80 lies the infamous town of Tombstone, the town too tough to die.

Even those that aren't interested in the Old West know that Tombstone was the location of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Tombstone's main source of income is, you might have guessed, tourism. Allen Street, the town's main thoroughfare, still resembles Tombstone as it was in the 1880s. The walkways beside the storefronts are wooden, and the streets are still unpaved.

Although there are many shops and restaurants in Tombstone, the town relishes its historical imprint on America. The O.K. Corral still offers tours, as does the C.S. Fly Photo Gallery, where you can view Mr. Fly's photographs of Geronimo and 1880s Tombstone.

The most important place to visit in town is the Tombstone Courthouse. Now a historical museum, visiting the courthouse will take you back 120 years, as you can view exhibits and thousands of artifacts and really get a feel for what life was like in Tombstone.

Now an artist enclave, the quaint community of Bisbee lies about twenty miles southeast of Tombstone. Bisbess is home to the largest open pit copper mine in the world, the Queen Mine.

The first thing you might notice about Bisbee is its beautiful architecture, as "old" Bisbee is nestled into the side of a mountain. Immediately, your eyes will gaze over to "The Pit," the copper mine, which ceased production in the mid 1970s. Quite simply, it's the largest hole in the earth you'll ever see!

You can go right down into the Queen Mine, where tours are operated by former miners on a daily basis. From the miners you will get their personal knowledge of the operations of the Queen Mine.

All of these historical towns make a good day trip for tourists. You may want to consider a weekend getaway to take in everything that Cochise County offers.

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