Jerome was once a roaring mining town with 15,000 people
and multi-storied buildings and fine homes. It was incorporated in
1899, but with the fall of copper prices and the closing of the Phelps
Dodge Mine in 1953, it became the world's largest “ghost city.”
In the foothills of central Arizona's Verde Valley, surrounded by
the Prescott National Forest, the town is at an altitude of 5,248 feet.
It can be reached by taking Interstate17 to state Highway 260, and
260 to Cottonwood. From Cottonwood, state Highway 89A goes to
Jerome produced over a billion dollars worth of copper, gold,
silver and zinc in its 70-year active life. Today, life is quite different.
The town was designated a National Historical Landmark in 1967. Its
economy is now based on tourism and recreation. Antique, craft
and gift shops, small boutiques, and art galleries are located in the
once-deserted stores along Main Street. Jerome also has one of
Arizona's oldest saloon-style bars. Lower elevations of the Verde
Valley, particularly the Cottonwood and Camp Verde areas, are agriculturally
oriented. Beef and dairy cattle, poultry, and irrigated crops
of hay, grain and fruit are the principal products.
Jerome State Historic Park, “down the hill” from the center of
town, features the former Douglas Mansion which has been converted
into a museum with exhibits on the area's history. Jerome
Historical Society Mine Museum, on Main Street, exhibits ore collections
and mining equipment of the past. The annual Paso De Casas
(Home Tour) celebrations are held the third weekend in May. Other
attractions include Traveling Jail, Gold King Mine, Big Pit, and United
Verde Extension Mines.
The 42-acre Tuzigoot National Monument, northeast of
Jerome, houses three large Indian pueblos occupied from the 12th
to the 14th centuries. Additionally, Montezuma Castle National
Monument, among the best preserved Indian structures in the
nation, is near Camp Verde. The five-story apartment is perched in a
limestone cliff. This dwelling was constructed around 1050 and
abandoned in 1450. The Montezuma Well, part of the National
Monument, is a natural limestone sink 470 feet in diameter and
125-feet deep. The Indians diverted water from the well into irrigation
ditches for their farmlands below.
The Verde Valley is surrounded by Coconino and Prescott
National Forest lands. Recreation areas within the Prescott Forest
include Horse Thief Basin, Lynx Lake and Mingus Mountain. The
Coconino National Forest offers the Fairfield Snow bowl near
Flagstaff, one of Arizona's skiing slopes. Camping and fishing, as
well as hunting, are popular in both national forests.
Jerome State Historic Park
The 1916 mansion of James 'Rawhide Jimmy' Douglas sits regally atop a hill overlooking the scenic Verde Valley. The mansion served as a 'hotel' for visiting mining officials and investors, as well as home to the Douglas family. Once Arizona Territory's most productive copper mining area, Jerome lost its sheen when prices plummeted during the Depression. The mansion's well-appointed interior and adobe-brick architecture reflect the copper mining high-life before the fall. Displays feature local mining history and methods. The park, located in the town of Jerome off State Route 89A, has a number of intriguing historic attractions nearby.
Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum
The Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum opened its doors in 1953. It was created by the townspeople of Jerome, with the purpose of preserving the rich copper mining history of the Verde district. It is a combination gift shop and museum. Visitors will see a variety of interesting artifacts about the mining town. Paintings, tools, mineral samples and stock certificates help retell the town’s past. A collection of over 1,000 photographs is on display.
The museum is open everyday from 9:00 to 4:30 pm, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days. The admission charge is 50 cents for adults and children under 12 are free. If you would like more information on the museum, you may call 520-634-5477.
You can get to the museum from Jerome by going to the corner of Main (which is also called State Highway 89A) and Jerome Avenue. If you are coming from Phoenix or Tucson you will take Interstate 17 north out of town. When you get to the town of Camp Verde, you will exit and take State Highway 260 northwest through several small towns and on up into Jerome. Then continue into town, when you get to the intersection of Main (which is also what you are traveling on, State Highway 89A) and Jerome Avenue you have arrived at the museum. If you are coming from Flagstaff, you will take State Highway 89A southwest out of town. You will travel down Oak Creek and through Sedona. Then you will continue on up to Jerome. Travel through town until you get to the intersection of Main (which is also what you are traveling on, State Highway 89A) and Jerome Avenue then you have arrived at the museum.