Labelled with ICRA
Minerals Fossils and Artifacts Tucson Mineral and Gem World
Family owned and operated in the same location since 1968
2801 South Kinney Road, Tucson, Arizona 85735 Phone: 520-883-0682
for information e-mail me at


Click here for MAP and driving directions from down town Tucson.

Bisbee, Take a walk in the past

by Ron Ratkevich

Bisbee is the picturesque county seat of Cochise County and is only 100 miles southeast of Tucson. The community was founded in 1880 and named after Judge DeWitt Bisbee, one of the financial backers of the Copper Queen Mine. This old west mining camp proved to be one of the richest mineral sites in the world, producing millions of ounces of gold and more than eight billion pounds of copper, not to mention the silver, lead and zinc that came from these rich Mule Mountains. By the early 1900s, the Bisbee community was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. It had a population of 20,000 people and had become the most cultured city in the Southwest. When mining operations became unprofitable in 1975, Bisbee could have become just another of Arizona's ghost towns, but it soon was "discovered" and was transformed into an attractive artist colony and retirement community. Since the late 1970's, Bisbee had attracted people from all over the world who savor its unique uncommon bled of creativity, friendliness, style, romance and adventure all wrapped in the splendor of the old west.

To stop in Bisbee, is to stop in time. Nestled in the mile high Mule Mountains of southwestern Arizona, Bisbee has maintained an Old World charm seldom found anywhere in the United States. It is so well preserved that it has been featured in many movies, not as Bisbee, but with a little movie magic, the town was transformed into turn of the century New York, Spain, Italy and Greece, to name a few.

The fine collection of well preserved, turn of the century, Victorian structures are full of old west history and copper mining lore. Old miners' boarding houses have been refurbished into many charming small Bed and Breakfast establishments, of which no two are alike. Former Saloons are now quaint shops, antique stores or art galleries, cafes and restaurants.

If you are taking a walking tour don't miss the world famous Brewery Gulch, which in its heyday, boasted 47 saloons and was considered the liveliest spot between El Paso and San Francisco. Other activities include the Queen Mine Tour, that transports guests down, into the now inactive copper mine, and a visit to the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum. The Muheim House, best seen on your walking tour, is an outstanding example of 19th century architecture and elegance, and the Lavender open Pit Mine is breathtaking in its size and is a monument to miners who struggled to extract metals which laid hidden below hundreds of feet of solid rock. Visit the Chamber of Commerce, located at 31 Subway Street, to pick up a free copy of an excellent walking tour guide of historic Bisbee. If you are new to Tucson, don't miss the opportunity to visit Bisbee. If you have already been to Bisbee, you are probably hooked and will visit this remarkable community many times. For more information about Bisbee, call (520)432-5421.

Arizona Folklore Preserve

by Ron Ratkevich Beneath the towering ancient Cottonwood and Sycamore trees, in the beauty of Ramsey Canyon, is the Arizona Folklore Preserve. If you love Arizona, its history and tall tales, you won't want to miss this unforgettable opportunity. Here is an archive of sorts, where Arizona's songs, legends, poetry and myths are preserved and presented to the public. You will experience a huge collection of Pall Bunion-like tall tales, true history, songs and poetry that were written about Arizona and Arizonans for more than a century. This is not some musty-smelling old library, but it is a living testament of the state, its cowboy heritage, and a collection of tales, true or fantastic, that have been passed down and often added to, generation after generation. The wonderful thing about the Arizona Folklore Preserve is that this institution provides live performances by Cowboy poets, storytellers and Balladeers in their theater. The Preserve's bookstore is full of tapes of Arizona artists and many hard to find books about the myths, mysteries, fables and just plain tall tales. The Arizona Folklore Preserve is open on Saturdays and Sundays, with showtimes on these days starting at 2:00 PM. Reservations are required. Dolan Ellis, founder of AFP stated "Great wisdom is quietly stored within the folklore of the people of Arizona. Our state's wonderful and entertaining songs, stories and legends, speak of basic universal values which have anchored, not only our own culture, but hundreds of other cultures for thousands of years. These ancient time-proven value systems are revealed to us through our Arizona folk heroes and their actions, both real and contrived." The Arizona Folklore Preserve believes that it is important to provide a place where these useful and fascinating stories, songs and legends of historic (and not so credible) Arizona moments can be preserved and presented for the enrichment of our current and future generations. Ramsey Canyon itself has a long and fascinating history of mining, moonshining, and lawlessness, and giant blue oxen. The canyon is also "haunted" with many "ghosts of past times" having been seen up and down the canyon: A perfect setting for this great folklore preserve. To reach the Arizona Folklore Preserve, go 6 miles south of Sierra Vista on Highway 92. Turn right onto Ramsey Canyon Road (toward the mountain) for 3.5 miles where you will find a sign and the preserve's entrance. For further information & Reservations call (520) 378-6165

Amerind Foundation Museum, A Great Day Trip

by Ron Ratkevich

The Amerind Foundation Museum is a private, nonprofit archaeological and anthropological research facility and museum. Devoted to the study of Native Peoples of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico, the name "Amerind", a contraction of American Indian, illustrates the purpose of the museum.
Located in the beautiful unspoiled countryside of southeastern Arizona, the Museum exists to educate and inform the public about American Indian prehistory and history. Exhibits highlight Native American culture, art, crafts and social structure.
The Amerind Museum maintains one of the largest private collections in the United States and is entirely supported by its private endowment,donations and museum entry fees. Collections are concentrated on the peoples of the prehistoric southwest and Northern Mexico, but range from the Arctic to South America.
The Museum's permanent collection numbers in the tens of thousands of objects. The Amerind still collects and preserves items of the past for the future.
The Amerind Foundation was founded in 1937 by William Shirley Fulton as a private, nonprofit archaeological research institution. As a young man, Fulton made several trips to Arizona starting in 1906. On one of these trips he heard of Texas Canyon. Intrigued by the Canyon's rugged beauty and rumors of ancient archaeological sites, Fulton purchased the property which would become the FF Ranch, (later to become the Amerind Foundation.) After building a home amid the boulder formations of Texas Canyon in 1931, Fulton began to excavate archaeological sites on his property and published his first scientific articles in 1934, and 1938. With the incorporation of the Amerind Foundation in 1937, Fulton was fully committed to supporting research into the prehistoric past of North America. Fulton's beliefs and his own research was just the beginning of what would become one of the finest private museum collections of ethnographic and archaeological materials anywhere.
The museum and research facility are located near Interstate 10 in Texas Canyon between Benson and Wilcox, about 60 miles (an hour's drive) from Tucson. To get there, take the Dragoon Road exit (318) and proceed east one mile to the Amerind Foundation turnoff. Turn left and the entrance sign and you will find the museum.

Museum Hours:

Fall, Winter and Spring hours: Sept. 1 through August 31, the Museum is open daily 10 am to 4 pm.

Summer hours: June 1 through August 31, the Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday 10 am to 4 pm.

The Amerind Museum is closed for all major holidays. Tours and large groups should phone ahead to coordinate arrival times with the museum staff (520-586-3666).

Admission fees: Adults $3.00, Seniors and Youths 12 to 18 $2, Group Rate $2.00 per person, Children under 12 are free.


by Ron Ratkevich
The Arizona State Parks Department will be opening Kartchner Caverns to the public, but this has taken years of secrecy, negotiation, study and assurances that every safeguard has been made to protect the integrity of this rare natural geological formation.
Kartchner Caverns were discovered in 1974 by two cave explorers Randy Tufts and Gary Tenen and kept secret until 1988 when they approached the Kartchner family with news of the discovery. It took two years for the Kartchners' to decline the offer of doing it themselves, but the alternative appeared more attractive and the land and the cave were sold to the State for eventual use as a park. After the sale in 1988, scientific research and development began on a frenzied scale, with many delays due to dangerous rocky structures which had to be engineered for visitor safety, and more importantly, every aspect had to be studied and mapped, which turned out to be a project beyond anyone's early estimates. Some of the cave rooms were immense, larger than a football field, the floor was literally lined with pitfalls; deep vertical shafts covered over with thin shells of calcium that could crumble under the weight of an explorer.
Nothing seemed to be going right, and press release after press release announced opening dates that came and went. Originally scheduled to open in 1992 or 1993, work still continues on making proper accommodations for the public. The delays, in reality, were probably a positive thing since Arizona never had to deal with such an amazing and unique park situation. Trails are being constructed to less sensitive areas of the cave, airlock doors are being fitted to control the inside atmosphere and rare fossils, like an Ice Age, bear-size sloth skeleton had to be slowly excavated for display in the visitor's center.
Tufts and Tenen do have certain regrets to making their discovery public. Kartchner Caverns is one of the finest cave complexes in North America, and until its discovery the hidden world was safe from the intrusion, at least during modern times. Kartchner is also a wet cave, meaning the delicate formations are still growing and the conditions for such growth are almost unheard of in Arizona. Had the cave been further away from civilization, Tufts and Tenen could have kept its exact location a secret known only to the most credible of cave explorers. Kartchner Caverns is scheduled to open in November 1999. To make advanced reservations for cave tours call 520-586-CAVE. Be sure not to miss this incredible natural wonder!

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Last Updated: April 11,2006