When one stops in for a drink at St. Elmo Bar in Bisbee, AZ, one joins a unique brotherhood (and sisterhood) of patrons that stretches back 150 years or more in the famous, “Brewery Gulch”.
One can’t walk the streets of Bisbee and not feel goosebumps on their arms.
Perhaps it’s knowing that my feet stepped on the same footprints left by wanderers and nomads from 150 years ago that leaves the burden of heritage to carry forth. Maybe it’s feeling the same breeze rushing through the canyon that native people found refuge in. Or, perhaps it’s just resting my arms on the same wooden bar top that once supported that of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, that I feel a bit closer to history.
St. Elmo Bar was established in 1902, about 21 years after the famous “Gunfight at the OK Corral” an hour north in Tombstone. But that’s not to say that Earp and Holliday never drank here.
Brewery Gulch, a section of Bisbee, hosted the towns entertainment and nightlife long before St. Elmo was around. At one time the Gulch boasted some 47 saloons as early as 1880, and had been considered the hottest spot between El Paso and San Francisco.
On the same piece of Earth that St. Elmo now stands was once other drinking establishments, brothels, and other places of depravity that weary miners and gandy dancers relieved their aching bones. Perhaps one can still hear the gunshots and fist fights of 150 years ago echoing off the walls of St. Elmo today.
But as of this afternoon, St. Elmo Bar still remains as one of the oldest bars in Arizona in operation. During the day, you can talk to the local regulars, and at night you can party with tourists late into the eve.
Sash and I couldn’t stay that late, however. The day we rolled into Bisbee, we had only time for a rest and drink. But we did make a point to stop in at St. Elmo. No trip to Bisbee can be complete without visiting the famous bar.
St. Elmo Bar
36 Brewery Ave
Bisbee, AZ 85603