More Bisbee Turquoise Info
The vast majority of Bisbee Turquoise came to surface when the Phelps
Dodge Corporation started open pit
mining operations at the location now known as the Lavender Pit, especially
the eastern side of the pit. Large amounts of a conglomerate rock
bed needed to be removed before the deeper located copper ore could
be reached. Within this conglomerate/waste rock is where most quantities
of the turquoise was located, both in vein and nugget form. Bisbee
Turquoise can be found is many different shades of color and quality,
from soft, low quality pail blue, to the hardest, most brilliant blue
turquoise that can be found any where in the world, and most every
shade of blue in between. Green turquoise is also found in Bisbee,
but is not usually of very high quality.
During the time that the largest quantities of turquoise were being
extracted from the mine, the company made no
organized effort to recover it. It simply got loaded into large dump
trucks and hauled off to the dumps. During this time (primarily through
the mid-50s into the mid-60s), almost all recovered turquoise was
made by company employees, taking it home in their lunch boxes, etc.
Though this activity was prohibited, it was only vaguely enforced.
Depending on where the shovels were digging after blasting operations,
large quantities of turquoise would be exposed, with many pieces too
large to carry. Being sometimes alone, out of sight and out of mind,
truck drivers and security guards were able to do quite well in gathering
turquoise, though many didn't do so.
Most of the turquoise was dumped on the northern area of the dumps,
along Arizona Highway 80 across from the Bisbee suburb called Saginaw,
and in lesser quantities in an area known as South Bisbee. After the
dumping activities in these areas were full, the company began dumping
waste rock in other locations. At this time, individuals outside the
company began sneaking onto the dumps and hunting for the turquoise.
Though this activity was illegal (trespassing, and a large liability
to the company), these individuals are responsible for recovering
much fine Bisbee turquoise, recovering it from exposure, and from
the leaching effect of chemical water being filtered through the dumps
to extract copper downstream. For several years (mostly the mid-60s
to early 70s), these individuals locally know as dumpers, (the author
of this article was one), were the only source for this fine Turquoise.
The highest-grade rock was never abundant. Present day illegal dumping
activity is only recovering small amounts of any rock, especially
high grade, and it seldom goes up for sale. Hard and glossy, with
its distinctive bright blue color, and dark, chocolate brown matrix,
high grade Bisbee Blue turquoise is exceptionally beautiful, and is
unparalled with any turquoise found any where in the world.
Today in and around Bisbee and under the Mule Mountains are over 1500
miles of tunnels and shafts along with the now famous Lavender Pit.
Learn more about the Sky Stone. As one of the most
popular and belowed gemstones in the world there is a lot of history,
facts and lore associated with this gemstone. You can find Turquoise
Information in many places including books, the internet, galleries,
and old miners. A lot of this information is passed on via word of
mouth. Therefor, you must be careful what you believe and match up
Turquoise Information from many sources and authorities. If
you are short on time take a look at the wonderful collection of information
that Dillon and John Hartman have accumulated on www.durangosilver.com.
The Hartman's information has been accumulated from many reliable
sources and checked with several sources before publishing.
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