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Jerome - Arizona

Perched halfway up Cleopatra Hill (part of Mingus Mountain), Jerome is an old mining town that has survived as an artists' colony. The town seems destined to fall down the slope but it hangs on for dear life, in more ways than one.

South of Sedona, and far older -- founded in 1876-- the town sits above what was the largest copper mine in Arizona. Fifteen thousand people lived here in 1929 (far more than in Sedona and the town prospered until the mines and the mining economy began petering out during the Great Depression.

Jerome History

Pre-Columbian Native Americans found the ore first. Then came the Spanish, finding copper instead of the gold there were seeking. In 1876, three European prospectors found rich copper deposits and staked claims. Soon, the United Verde Copper Company bought the claims and mining started in earnest. The town was then a ramshackle collection of tents and wooden shacks, and was named for Eugene Jerome, the main investor in the company.

Mining costs were high and transportation into and out of town was difficult. A new owner, W.A. Clark had more money to invest and he built a narrow gauge railway which greatly reduced the freight costs. United Verde became the largest producing copper mine in the territory. Brick and frame buildings dominated the town now, schools were built and an opera house opened. Douglas opened the Little Daizy Mine in 1912 and the town continued to boom. But like most mining towns, the copper eventually became scarce, the mines curtailed activity and Jerome shriveled.

What to See & Do

The last mine folded in 1953. Artists discovered the decaying ghost town during the mid-1960s, and painters and craftspeople moved into the cliff-side houses and established shops selling southwestern art and crafts, including trinkets and gewgaws fashioned from copper, silver, and gold. There are a number of places with character in which to eat, and lodgings including atmospheric bed and breakfast inns.

Jerome State Historic Park is just off Highway 89A, on a ridge. The mansion here was built in 1917 by James "Rawhide Jimmy" Douglas, for a short time the owner of the Little Daisy Mine. The house holds displays of local mining history and a walk through the grounds offers several views of the town and the Verde Valley below. Major landmarks are identified on placards at the viewpoints. More local history is told in the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum. This building from the turn of the century has exhibits on the town's growth and industry when it was the booming copper camp, plus a book and gift shop.

How to Get There

Jerome is located on Arizona Highway 89A -- a scenic byway -- between Prescott and Flagstaff. It's short drive -- about 30 minutes -- from Sedona, and is 33 miles northeast of Prescott.

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