Bisbee, AZ is a hill town, a place which would never have been thought of as suitable for occupation but for one factor: the presence of abundant copper-bearing rocks, entire mountains resigned to their exploitative fate.
Many hill towns have an elevated road which offers a panoramic view of the entire town. Bisbee has one, as does Ennis in County Clare in the west of Ireland; both roads are known as “High Road”. Singer/songwriter Tim O’Brien wrote and sang this moody song of a lost love while “up on a high road, lookin’ down…”:
I’ve been working for a friend of a friend up on Bisbee’s High Road, doing some trim work on a house. Getting there has become a pain in the butt lately due to the presence of crews of predominantly Hispanic workers and their dump trucks. The road is narrow, perched on the side of a canyon as it is, and I’ve had to back up in order to allow a truck to lumber past me. The street has many sets of stairs which allow access to several of the houses, reminding me of a game of chutes and ladders, and the steps are often lined with a row of workers kibitzing their peers. In general the street feels inordinately crowded these days.
You might wonder what these crews are doing on a residential street. It seems, from what I’ve heard, that the mining company is attempting to curry favor with the city of Bisbee by replacing yard dirt contaminated by heavy metals and other poisonous results of decades of copper mining with new dirt of unknown provenance. The mining company would like to open another open-pit mine within the city limits, creating or adding to the garish moonscape on the south edge of town.
A few scenes up on High Road:
Above is a view of the 180-degree Hairpin Turn, a corner which demands careful driving. That’s how you get on the High Road. I cropped this view from one of Bev’s photos. The following photo is also one of Bev’s, a typical High Road house looking like a page from a Dr. Suess book:
Work crew scenes in the side yard next to the house I’ve been working on:
The workers seem to be unnecessarily numerous and many can be seen throughout the day looking like this:
I asked one of the workers where the new soil comes from. He tersely replied , “Cochise.”, which is the name of this county. It might be sewage sludge composted with sand and wood waste.