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Bisbee Blue



  Bisbee Blue or Bisbee turquoise refers to the turquoise that comes from copper mines located in the vicinity of Bisbee, Arizona.

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Though small amounts were found in the Campbell shaft mine, as well as in streambeds in the Mule Mountains, the vast majority of Bisbee turquoise surfaced 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 copper ore located more deeply could be reached. This conglomerate "waste" rock was the host for most of the turquoise, both in vein and nugget form. Bisbee turquoise can be found in many different shades of color and quality, from soft, low quality pale blue to the quality hard brilliant blue turquoise and almost 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 from the late 1950s to the late 1960s), almost all recovered turquoise was obtained by company employees taking it home in their lunch boxes, etc. Though this activity was prohibited, the prohibition was rarely enforced. For several years (mostly the early to late 1970s), these individuals, locally known as "dumpers", were the only source for this fine turquoise. Also, during this time, Phelps Dodge leased out the dumps to an individual to mine the dumps for turquoise.

 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bisbee_Blue". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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