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Bisbee’s mighty tug of war (access required)

In December 1903, handbills began appearing around Bisbee announcing a mighty tug-of-war competition. Tug-of-war was popular in the early 1900s, particularly in the rough and ready mining towns of the West, where a man’s strength and brawn was a measure of his success.

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Residents of Bisbee pose for a picture with a wrestling bear in front of Brewery Saloon on the town’s notorious Brewery Gulch in 1897.

Brewery Gulch’s Wrestling Bear

In southeastern Arizona in the 1890s a rancher named James Parker caught a bear cub and took it home to raise as a pet. It didn’t work out too well. Parker’s daughter Elizabeth, later Elizabeth Brown, said that as the bear grew it became too troublesome to keep at the ranch and finally her father took the animal, now half-grown, to Bisbee. He gave it to saloon keeper Joseph Muheim.