A black and white postcard of Castle rock and lower Tombstone Canyon. The front caption on the bottom in white reads: “Castle Rock Bisbee, Ariz. L-109”. The postcard is unused and was published on Kodak paper. Foster, Thomas N Collection.
Castle rock is the massive formation of Martin limestone that marks the entrance to Tombstone Canyon. In May 1877, Jack Dunn found clean water near the base of castle rock to supply himself and the sixteen cavalry men he was traveling with. This spring was named the Malvina Spring and provided water for Bisbee’s early pioneers and was utilized in Bisbee’s early smelting operations. The first smelter, a Catalonian furnace, was built in 1878 by David B Rea, Warner Buck and George Warren operated with hand bellows. Later on, the Copper Queen Smelter built two 36-inch furnaces that operated with spring water. The water flow was plentiful enough for smelting during winter and spring, but would dry up in the summer. When production increased and the smelter upgraded to larger furnaces, Malvina spring couldn’t provide enough water and dried up. The Copper Queen had plans to divert water from the San Pedro before they stuck ground water in the mines. In the early 1880s, the cabins of George Warren, David B Rea and George Atkins were located near the base. Among the businesses at that location was the Castle Rock Studio ran by photographer Frank Nicholson on 114 Tombstone Canyon. The Muirhead House was built over the Malvina spring in 1895 by John Joseph Muirhead, who served as Bisbee’s first mayor after his appointment on January 21, 1905. The lodging house was the largest wooden structure in Bisbee. Muirhead’s wife, Catherine Jane Muirhead acted as proprietor and also ran a small millinery business out of the building. Their rates at the time were monthly, not nightly, and they provided lodging for miners. After John Muirhead’s death in 1930, his wife continued to operate the Muirhead House. In the 1980s Jim Babcock bought the building and renovated the rooms into apartments. It was closed in 2007 and reopened in 2009 as the Inn at Castle Rock. The area around Castle Rock remains a mix of assorted businesses, lodging for travelers and a scattering of residential homes.