Skip to main content

Throwback Thursday; Bisbee, AZ and Old US 80

In Cochise County, Arizona along an old segment of US Route 80 designated as Arizona State Route 80 is the old mining town of Bisbee.






Bisbee is located in the Mule Mountains at an elevation of 5,538 feet above sea level.  Back in the early days of Arizona travel wasn't as direct as it is now.  Often roads followed old wagon trails from the major population centers of the time.  In the case of US Route 80 when it was originally plotted out it took the path of the Old Spanish Trail.  This alignment consisted of a huge southwestern swing into New Mexico to Douglas.  From Douglas US 80 swung northwest through the classic mining communities of Bisbee and Tombstone before swinging west to Tucson.  US 80 also took another major swing north from Tucson to Phoenix rather than westward to Yuma.  US 80 was such in impractical route that I-8 largely took the path of AZ 84 west from Tuscon to Gila Bend and I-10 from Benson to the New Mexico state line.  The path of US 80 makes much more logical sense looking at the 1927 State Highway Map of Arizona:

1927 Arizona/New Mexico State Highway Maps Part A

1927 Arizona/New Mexico State Highway Map Part B

Bisbee was founded back in 1880 as a gold, silver, and copper mining community.  Since 1929 Bisbee has been the Cochise County seat which was originally in Tombstone.  Early Bisbee centered around the Copper Queen Mine which was in operation from 1880 until 1985.  Bisbee's mining industry survived far longer than it did in Tombstone and largely moved to open pit mining in the 1950s.  The Lavender Pit is the most obvious example of the open pit days with the massive hole easily observed on the south side of AZ 80.





Bisbee's population peaked out near 1960 at about 10,000 residents.  After Lavender Pit closed in 1974 followed by the Copper Queen in 1985 Bisbee began to decline.  The current population of Bisbee is approximately 5,000 residents and doesn't show much signs of slowing any time soon.

US 80 had a huge alignment shift through Bisbee prior to the completion of the Mule Pass Tunnel in 1958.  Early US 80 used Main Street and Tombstone Canyon Road west through Bisbee on an approach of Mule Pass.   US 80 used West Boulevard and Old Divide Road climb over Mule Pass.  By 1989 US 80 had been truncated out of Arizona and the route through Bisbee had become AZ 80.

Bridgehunter.com on the Mule Pass Tunnel

USends on US 80 end points

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The New PA 48 - The Unbuilt Eastern Allegheny County Freeway

From the 1950's to the 1980's, there was a proposal to build a 4-lane expressway paralleling PA Route 48.  This proposed highway was officially known as the "North-South Parkway", but locally known as the "New 48".  Sadly, this route never came to be; however, it is the predecessor of another highway, The Mon-Fayette Expressway.  The "New 48" was a highly debated route that really never got beyond the planning stages.  There are very few remnants of construction left.

History:
Originally proposed in the post-war Pittsburgh, the "New 48" was a lot of talk, but it really never saw much work done.  Most of the discussion, planning, land acquisitions and right-of-way clearing occurred in the 1960s.  The "New 48" would also have gone by the term "North-South Parkway".  This was the term for the highway used in White Oak: A Master Plan done by the Pittsburgh Regional Planning Commission in 1960. (1)

The early 60s would see muc…

Hunting for forgotten history; Old US 99 in Fresno

Coming back from my Great Lakes Trip the other day I encountered this sign goof at Fresno-Yosemite International Airport which incorrectly displays US Route 99.





That little US 99 sign was the inspiration I needed to start tracking all the former alignments through the City of Fresno.  Fresno in general has had a huge shift in highway layouts over the decades which is something I intend to finish with California 41 and 180 perhaps later this month.  Based off my research I came with the following three maps progressing northward through Fresno showing every iteration of US 99 before it was downgraded to a State Highway in 1967.




Essentially the route alignment history of US Route 99 in Fresno is as follows.

1926-1930 Alignment 

Progressing northward into Fresno US Route 99 would have followed:

Railroad Avenue
-  Cherry Avenue
-  Broadway Street
-  Divisadero Street
-  H Street
-  Belmont Avenue
-  Golden State Avenue

1930-1934 Realignment off of Railroad Avenue

Sometime between 1930 to …

The William Flinn (not Flynn) Highway - Pittsburgh's Misspelled Street

For decades if you traveled along PA Route 8 in Pittsburgh's North Hills suburbs, you would have noticed signs that read "William Flynn Highway" at every intersection.  Even today, many businesses and residences have their addresses listed as XXXX William Flynn Highway.  However, it's not William Flynn Highway, it is William FLINN Highway - and the gentleman who it is named for has a long and storied past in Pittsburgh's infrastructure history.

William Flinn was born in England in 1851; however later that year, his family emigrated to the United States and would settle in Pittsburgh.  A 10 year-old school drop out, Flinn grew interested in politics and would join the Allegheny County Republican Party in 1877 as a ward commissioner and a seat on the Board of Fire Commissioners.  Flinn would serve in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives and Senate from 1877 to 1902. (1)

Flinn along with James J. Booth would found the Booth and Flinn construction firm in …