12. Southern Pacific Bringing Copper from Bisbee to Benson Smelter c. 1903
Smelter Train bringing copper ore mural
Mural Depiction

The early years of mining in Bisbee saw a richer quality of ore that offset the high cost of mule-drawn wagons. As the quality of ore decreased an alternative was necessary to cut expenses. 

Background Information

The Southern Pacific Railroad's arrival in Arizona in 1879 heralded a turning point in the transport of ore to refinement and market.

It meant greater speed and efficiency, and lower cost than traditional methods of transport. For example, it cost $6.00  to $7.25 per ton to transport freight by mule between Bisbee and Fairbank but by rail it cost $1.00.


Although early surface transportation was later replaced by rail and truck, the railroad contributed to the expansion of mining during the territorial years in Arizona.

Mural Information

Artist:  Doug Quarles

Size:     5' x 8'

Completed: November 2013


   City of Benson

   Arizona G & T Cooperatives

   Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative