A black and white postcard of burro hauling ore. The front caption reads: “Bisbee Ore Train, Bisbee, Arizona”. The postcard is unused, and the publisher is unknown. Viola Brown collection.
Before Bisbee had proper infrastructure and pipelines, the residents of Bisbee used burros to bring their supply of water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. These beasts of burden were highly relied upon during the early years of Bisbee. Before automobiles, they transported water, firewood, ore, laundry, and the construction materials to build Bisbee’s first homes. Mexican businessmen owned water burros that carried two twenty-gallon canvas sacks and took them from door to door to Bisbee residents. They sold the water for fifty cents ($14.60 in 2021) per twenty-gallon bag. The price was once at twenty-five cents, but was doubled due to scarcity during drought and a desire for better profit margins. Bisbee’s children also favored these animals as they were patient enough to allow the youngsters to ride on their backs. The affection for burros was so strong that in July 1911 when 5,000 wild burros were to be slaughtered to make soap, a number of Bisbee residents protested for them to be spared.