Bisbee’s hills with two names

Folks on the Lavender Jeep Tour often ask about location names, and I've been surprised at how many times I've had to say "this" or "that." Seems especially that the hills around Bisbee have two names. Some have evolved over time and some are the differences between what local say and what USGS topographic maps record.

Gold Hill, or Geronimo

Gold Hill, or Geronimo

Gold Hill / Geronimo

Interestingly, all of the hills that are on this topic can be seen from High Road. At the greatest distance is the one officially called Gold Hill, and from which emanates Gold Gulch. (Where many folks have panned a bit of gold.) Even on topo maps going back to 1902, it was known as Gold Hill, but when I was growing up, it was called Geronimo. Other natives know it by the same name, but no one seems to know why.

B Hill, or Chihuahua Hill

B Hill, or Chihuahua Hill

B Hill / Chihuahua Hill

The best known hill in Bisbee is B Hill, where the "B" is, of course. But that "B" didn't go up there until about 1929, and before that it was known as Chihuahua Hill, as it still is known on the 1958 topo. We can assume it got that name because it was the point of settlement for many of the immigrants from Mexico. But that doesn't necessarily jibe, because most of the immigrants to Bisbee came from Sonora. (Morenci was settled out of Chihuahua.)

There is some controversy over the letters on hills or water tanks of communities in the West. Some say they were for the new air mail service, which had inadequate maps and needed better guidance, while others say they were the result of community or school pride. The latter seems a better choice, but it's interesting that so many went up at about the same time; must have been a fad.

Queen Hill or Buckey O'Neill Hill

Queen Hill or Buckey O'Neill Hill

Queen Hill / Buckey O'Neill Hill

Then there's the hill into which the Queen Mine enters. The claim the sat on this hill, and the early versions of Bisbee's major mining company, were named Copper Queen, but the hill, early on (though not on the early maps) was named Queen Hill, without the "copper."  But it also has another name frequently applied: Buckey O'Neill, a Yavapai County (Prescott) sheriff, gambler and all-around hero, who lost his life in the Spanish-American War in Cuba.

He got his name, apparently, from playing the old West card game faro, the deck of which was printed with a tiger on the back. When one played faro, it was known as "bucking the tiger."

While his many exploits have been chronicled many times, he was never a part of Cochise County lore, except for a brief stint as a reporter in Tombstone in 1880-81. So why a hill in Bisbee would carry his name, I can't discover. I've searched the old newspapers around the time there were commemorations of the man in northern Arizona, and can't find any to-do in Bisbee, though, like all western heroes of the age, he was well respected locally.

Clawson House

Clawson House

School Hill / Clawson Hill

The final one of the hills with two names, might actually have three. Or four. Today, it's generally School Hill, but I've also heard it called High School Hill, supposedly because the other school, Central, is way on town and not on the hill. And before the schools, there was the home of Spencer, or Charlies, Clawson, which gave it the name of Clawson Hill.

And, before Clawson Hill, it may have been known as Knob Hill. And article in a Cochise Review of 1901 says: "A score of young men of Bisbee gathered at the palatial residence of Mr. Spencer W. Clawson on Knob Hill to enjoy . . . ."

Yet a Tombstone Epitaph of several months earlier, in discussing the number of new homes, states: "Clawson's hill is now almost covered with sightly residences," and lists some of those who have built. But it also adds: "On School hill among those who have recently built are . . . ." That would lead me to assume that the lower part of the hill, which contained the old school near where Central would be built in five years, was called School hill even at that time.

Or 2 places with 1 name

The opposite of this is the canyons that run east and west from the Divide. Today, both are called Tombstone Canyon.

Historically (up to beginning of 20th century), the canyon that ran toward Tombstone was called Tombstone Canyon, while the one which ran this way was Bisbee Canyon.

Why the change?

Here's my guess: Folks used to talk about the road up Bisbee Canyon toward Tombstone Canyon.

Then it became Tombstone Canyon road. And there it sits.

Of course, that main road up through Bisbee starts as Naco Road, becomes Lyric Plaza, then Main Street, then Upper Main, then Tombstone Canyon, then Upper Tombstone Canyon, then West Blvd., and finally, Highland Park Road. (That last is where Mule Gulch becomes Morales Creek, but that's another story.

No wonder Google Maps can't find its way around Bisbee!

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