Monday, February 27, 2012

Lavender Pit, Bisbee, Arizona


And while the Copper Queen was the largest underground copper mine, this is the Lavender Pit, the world's largest open copper pit. It was opened in the 1950's when the copper veins underground started to diminish. It is not named for the color of the ground, but for the mine supervisor at the time, Harrison Lavender.


It, too, was abandoned in 1975 when the Copper Queen mine was closed. The pit cover 351 acres, is 900 feet deep (which would be equivalent to a 90 story skyscraper) which is a result of more than 350 million tons of material being removed. Today it is fenced in with observation areas so that you can take snapshots.

One of the byproducts of copper mining at the Lavender Pit was that of some of the finest turquoise in the world, known as Bisbee (what else?) Turquoise. At the beginning of excavation of the pit, the remnants of copper with huge veins of turquoise were loaded in dump trucks and taken to the company dump. Employees started to take it home in lunchboxes and backpacks and by the end of the mining operations more than a ton of this type of turquoise had been removed. Since the mine is closed and no more turquoise is being extracted, Bisbee Turquoise goes for some eye popping prices on eBay and other sites.

5 comments:

dinahmow said...

Named for Mr. Lavender, but it does have a rich violet tinge!

Karen said...

Di: It does especially in the afternoon when the sun is going down.

Carolina said...

I'm in two minds: it is a scar we humans left in the earth, but on the other hand it does look beautiful. And lavenderish too ;-)

Karen said...

Carolina: I'm always amazed by what is considered a tourist site - like this huge hole in the ground.

Anonymous said...

A great place to visit, but the underground mine and the open pit are not the largest copper mines...they never were and never will be. But, still a great place to visit...we do quite frequently.