Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Bisbee, Douglas, and Cranes

Monday was a day spent at the campground doing nothing too exciting or interesting. Tuesday was a different tale as we struck out in the morning heading south on route 80 toward Douglas, a border town that is about 70 miles from Benson. We passed through Tombstone and on to Bisbee. We had spent time in Bisbee last year so we just passed on through but on the southern end of town there is an open pit copper mine,the Lavender mine, that is no longer being mined.

We stopped at an overlook area and took some pictures and tried to read the posted signs that were in a real need of being replaced.

And then we continued our journey on toward Douglas. After crossing the mountainous area south of Bisbee we found ourselves to be in a valley surrounded by distant mountains. Our first stop in Douglas was at the Visitor's Center where we watched a film about Cochise County.

Center personnel gave us some literature and we set out to see the town. Within walking distance from the Visitor's center is an old El Paso and Southwestern Railroad Depot that was built in 1913.

The depot is no longer used as such but was restored in 1992 and is now used as headquarters for the Douglas Police Department. Inside the building is a stained glassed dome area.

The Gadsden Hotel was our next stop. This old hotel was built in 1907 and then rebuilt in 1928 following a fire the previous year. It has been called the "Last of the Grand Hotels". The main lobby has twin staircases of marble and four pillars topped with 14K gold leaf, valued at $20,000.00 in 1929. Forty-two feet across one wall of the mezzanine is Tiffany stained glass mural.

Many dignitaries and celebrities have stayed at this hotel. The doors to the rooms are unusal with the room numbers in wood carvings.

It continues to be used as a hotel and seemed to have people coming and going as we were there. In the lobby a dog was lying around not bothering anyone and on the stair landing there was a cat- a big stuffed mountain lion. Quite a place to see!

Leaving the hotel we drove about the city. One unique feature of the city is a block that has 4 churches, one on each side of the block- a Methodist, a Episcopal, a Baptist and a Presbyterian. Ripley's "Believe It or Not declared it the only place in the world with this feature in 1930. The end of town that borders Mexico has tall fencing, an old and a newer fence, separating the countries.

The population of the town appears to be mostly Hispanics. After lunch at a local Mexican restaurant we left Douglas and headed north toward Wilcox on route 191.
We came to the town of Pearce that at one time due to gold being found in the area had 1500 residents, presently the number of residents is 15- what a change. There is a gold/silver operation in the area that is run by a company from Ontario, Canada.

Not too much further from Pearce we came to an area known as Cochise Stronghold. We had to drive off on a side road that soon became a dirt road to go to a National campground by the granite cliffs.

The granite cliffs were the hiding place for Cochise when federal agents were searching for him and later he died and was buried in this area. Once to the campground the roads were paved and the campsites were also paved although the sites seemed small. The dirt road to the campground would not be good for driving any sizable RV in order to get to the campground.

Back on route 191 we continued north. We had been told that Sandhill Cranes had a migratory roost in the area near Wilcox from December until March. A power plant along 191 had a bird watching area set up so drove into there. A local man was there also but hoping to get a picture of a bald headed eagle that had been seen in the area. This man directed us to a place by the Wilcox golf course. As we drove into the ponds by the golf course we saw the first of several flocks of cranes flying in to roost for the night.

Apparently there are different species of cranes that roost in this area. It was amazing at the numbers of cranes that were in the grasses by the ponds- and the noise that these birds made.

About sunrise the cranes leave the roosting area in search of food, and that is to be quite a sight, and then later in the day they return to roost for the night.
From Wilcox we drove back to Benson and I-10 making an ice cream stop before getting to the campground. Later in the evening Tom went to the clubhouse to play Texas Hold'em and I just kept the home fires agoing.
Today, Wednesday has been another laid back day. Grocery shopping, post office stop, a load of laundry and a Jeep lube job. This evening I will be going to the clubhouse for Ladies Night Out- more about that at a later time.