Sunday, 23 April 2017


Jerome, Arizona.    Founded in 1876 in the Black Hills of Yavapai County 5000 feet above sea level, Jerome was once the fourth largest city in Arizona Territory. It had the largest copper mine in Arizona, producing three million pounds of copper per month.  The copper returns were pure profit as the mine operating expenses were covered by the extraction of other minerals..... gold, silver, lead, zinc, azurite and malachite.

Prehistoric Native Americans were the first miners. The Spanish looked for gold, but found copper. The first claims were staked in 1876 and United Verde mining operations began in 1883 after the Little Daisy claim.

Once known as the "Wickedest Town in the West", Jerome grew from a tent city to a prosperous town, inhabited by a mix of nationalities, all intent on making a fortune in the mines. Miners, smelter workers, freighters, gamblers, storekeepers, prostitutes and preachers, barkeepers, wives and children.... all citizens of the mining town.

In 1882, Jerome's first postmaster named the mining town after the family of financier Eugene Jerome. It was incorporated as a town in 1899, after a number of fires destroyed buildings and the town had been rebuilt.

Welcome to the town of Jerome with a giant J carved into the side of Cleopatra Hill. About 160km north of Phoenix, an easy drive for an afternoon's sightseeing.

By 1900, Jerome was a thriving copper mining town, but many of the businesses were associated with alcohol, gambling and prostitution.

With women in the minority, "soiled doves" found plenty of hardworking miners in Jerome willing to pay for companionship. Although it was illegal, enforcement was inconsistent. prostitution was in integral part of life throughout the mining years.
It must have been a rough life.
In 1916, over 3000 miners were employed producing copper for machinery and weapons for WW1. Disused mining equipment is on display along the approach to the town.  By 1918 underground mining was changed to an open pit mine after an uncontrollable fire broke out in one of the tunnels. The population of Jerome peaked to 15,000 in the 1920s but within 10 years during the Depression it dropped to less than 5,000. Another boom for copper to supply the needs of WW2, but Jerome's mines finally closed in 1953. Within 5 years, Jerome was left with only 50 inhabitants, and was the largest ghost town in America.

One of the old hotels hosts Rock'n'Roll in the Spirit Room. The place was really jumping to cover versions of Johnny Cash songs. Just walk in off the street and enjoy. 
I fell into a burning ring of fire.... I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher....

After dancing to the band in the bar, we dropped into Cellar 433 winery for some light refreshment. Two glasses of their good red wine and a cheese plate, but what are those dark items with long stems in the top right corner of the plate? They were pickled and spicy, full of small seeds. No idea what they were.... yummy though.

And while we enjoyed our wine and cheese, this was the spectacular view across the Verde Valley towards the red rocks of Sedona. The large building is the Douglas Mansion.

The Audrey mine shaft and headframe was constructed in 1918 after James "Rawhide" Douglas located a rich copper deposit. From 1919 to 1938 3.6 million tons of ore came out of this mine, yielding 320,000 tons of copper, 190 tons of silver, and 5.3 tons of gold.

Local transportation?

The Jerome Historical Society was formed in 1953, the year the mines closed. It's no longer a ghost town, thriving with tourist shops and artist's studios. It's been designated a National Historic District and the appearance of the streets and buildings has not changed much in 100 years, although much restoration has been completed, and more is planned.

The miners are gone, the current population includes artists, craft people, musicians, writers, hermits, historians and families. I'd love to go back and explore more of the streets, and perhaps buy something made of local copper.


  1. What a great post and it brings back many memories. Your photos are excellent and really show off the city. We haven't been there for many years but when we lived in Phoenix we would visit every so often. I think it's changed quite a bit since then (early 60s). But I remember they would hold Porsche races where the cars would charge up and down those winding roads!

  2. It sounds like mining towns the world over...

  3. Fascinating! Love the old equipment. We lived in a mining town when the mine closed. Sad but nothing to be done about it. The people were great in that town!

  4. Ooooh! I have an old friend who used to live here for a few years before going home to Jerome. Unfortunately, my travels never seem to go that direction, but then again, I'm not dead yet.

  5. What a lovely area to visit.

  6. Beautiful...looks QUITE different than where I am right now, still buried under snow and ice. Sunny today though and supposed to get up to 10*C!!!!!

  7. Resurrected by tourism. Must have been an interesting day.

  8. Looks like a great place to visit. Sounds like you had a great time. Nice photos and a very nice post.

  9. What a fantastic vacation.
    So many photo ops and the food looks yummy.

  10. Goodness me Jerome has had quite a history Shammi.. it's pretty amazing that it's come through the worst and is back to a more 'gentler' present. I can see it as a fascinating stop on a road trip!

  11. Great photos + interesting narrative = A fantastic blog post!
    I love Jerome! We were recently in Verde Valley for two weeks.
    Jerome is a great place to visit with a camera in hand.


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