JEROME, AZ – AMERICA’S LARGEST GHOST TOWN
STORY CHALLENGE: LETTER “J”
A part of my Grand Canyon adventure included a visit to the copper mining town of Jerome, Arizona. The drive there started out in the warmth of a beautiful sunny day. In the distance we could see the dark clouds forming and hoped it would miss us by the time we reached the town. Or at best leave us with a beautiful rainbow to photograph.
No such luck. When we climbed the hills leading to the center of town we were only able to explore the town for 15 minutes or so before the heavens opened up and a tremendous downpour instantly covered the whole area. Below are a few of the photos I was able to take. I hope they give you a sense of this historic site, known now as the largest ghost town in America.
“America’s Most Vertical City” and “Largest Ghost Town in America”.
Located high on top of Cleopatra Hill (5,200 feet) between Prescott and Flagstaff is the historic copper mining town of Jerome, Arizona. Once known as the wickedest town in the west, Jerome was a copper mining camp, growing from a settlement of tents to a roaring mining community. Four disastrous fires destroyed large sections of the town during its early history, resulting in the incorporation of the City of Jerome in 1899.
Founded in 1876, Jerome was once the fourth largest city in the Arizona Territory. The population peaked at 15,000 in the 1920’s. The Depression of the 1930’s slowed the mining operation and the claim went to Phelps Dodge, who holds the claim today. World War II brought increased demand for copper, but after the war, demand slowed. Dependant on the copper market, Phelps Dodge Mine closed in 1953. The remaining 50 to 100 hardy souls promoted the town as a historic ghost town. In 1967 Jerome was designated a National Historic District by the federal government. Today Jerome is a thriving tourist and artist community with a population of about 450.
Jerome sits above what was the largest copper mine in Arizona and produced an astonishing 3 million pounds of copper per month. Men and women from all over the world made their way to Arizona to find work and maybe a new way of life. Today the mines are silent, and Jerome has become the largest ghost town in America.
Jerome’s personality has changed dramatically in the past 30 years. Once a thriving mining camp between the late 1880s and early 1950s, Jerome is now a bustling tourist magnet and artistic community with a population of about 450. It includes a modicum of artists, craft people, musicians, writers, hermits, bed and breakfast owners, museum caretakers, gift shop proprietors and fallen-down-building landlords.
What is the Town of Jerome like today? Is it worth your time to visit? The answer is a resounding yes! Jerome is an enchanting town, and a photographer’s paradise. From its external appearances it hasn’t changed much in nearly 100 years. Many of the buildings used by present-day business folks are those built after the fires of 1894 . A number of the buildings have been restored and more are planned for restoration. Due to the 30-degree incline of the mountainside, gravity has pulled a number of buildings down the slope. To the delight of some, one of those buildings was the town’s jail. Those buildings still standing make for interesting visiting and with a little research you can find their historical significance. One notable section is the “Cribs District.” You will find this area across the street from the English Kitchen, in a back alley where all the buildings were are part of Jerome’s ill-famed “prostitution row.” You can find more information about the town by viewing the website located here.
Visit Frizztext at Story Challenge: Letter “J” to see more wonderful stories and photo interpretations of this challenge.
Next, we will visit Sedona, Montezuma Castle and the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!