Note: To try to catch up on all our adventures we’ve posted several blogs in the same day so don’t forget to click on the ‘Older’ tag at the bottom to be sure you haven’t missed anything!
(Camp Verde, AZ) We decided Tuesday would be a great day for a trip up to Jerome which 130 years ago was home to one of the wealthiest mines in the world. The town is said to be “America’s Most Vertical City” and the “Largest Ghost Town in America”.
The trip was an easy 25 miles though mostly up, to the top of Cleopatra Hill!
As usual, the views along the way were great. Although most snow is gone, the mountain tops are still frosted.
In 1876, the first mining claim was worked here, and at that time the town was named after a major investor, Eugene Murray Jerome whose great-nephew was Winston Churchill. The mine became known as the United Verde Copper Company when William Clark purchased the claims in 1888. Clark became one of the wealthiest men in the world, built over 1100 miles of railroad and was founder of both the cities of Butte, Montana and Las Vegas, Nevada.
At it’s height, in 1929, the town of Jerome had 15,000 residents living on this mountainside.
“Rawhide Jimmy” Douglas, who discovered the second major ore body here, opened the Little Daisy Mine in 1914. This meant that Jerome was never really a “company town” since it thrived supported by two separately owned and operated mines.
The photo below overlooks the Little Daisy Mine and the Douglas Mansion which have now become the Jerome State Historic Park.
The mine closed in 1953 and today there are only 358 residents who today appear to all be either artists or caught up in the tourist business of this quaint little town .
Jerome State Park and the Little Daisy Mine Museum Tour are suppose to be a great experience. Unfortunately, we did not know until we arrived that they are now closed on Tuesday and Wednesday even though the link from the chamber of commerce site says open every day. Argghhh!! Ok, well that means we have yet another reason to come back to Arizona next year. And when plans fall through it always seems we can find things to do instead….like, you got it--shop and eat!
We enjoyed time exploring all the little shops. You can find just about everything from flea market style shopping to very high-end jewelry and, of course, some beautiful artwork.
In 1903, The New York Sun proclaimed Jerome the “Wickedest City in the West” with 37 saloons and 13 bordellos.
The residents continue to play on this reputation.
For example, the shop to the left, a house of ill repute in its saucier days, is called the ‘House of Joy’. There is a local restaurant in another old bordello called “Belgian Jenny’s Bordello, Bistro and Pizzeria.
We decided to go with a local shopkeeper’s recommendation and have late lunch at the Mile High Grill pictured below. Ok, the town elevation is 34 feet less than a ‘mile high’ so the name is an obvious exaggeration ;-) but the food was definitely as good as advertized. I’d definitely recommend the burgers and Ken said the country-fried steak was really good too.
We took the picture to the left to get a shot of the restaurant but only noticed when reviewing photos the tower above the town hall. Ok, we’re clueless. Any idea what that is?
Ken tries to be very careful on studying our routes before we head out with the motorhome. He’s found his Mountain Directory West for Truckers, RV and Motorhome Drivers an invaluable resource in determining where he is willing to drive the rig. The notes on Jerome made it clear this drive was definitely NOT big rig friendly. To our surprise (although I was too shocked to grab the camera!) we met a 40 foot Allegro Bus coming down these narrow streets. We’re guessing he doesn’t use the Mountain Directory!
As usual when we got in the jeep to head out of Jerome, we spent some time purposely trying to get lost, continuing up to the peak of the mountain instead of back down.
The rock formations, with the hints of snow still hanging on were just beautiful.
I only wish I could take an aroma-photo because the clean air in the cool moist mountains was just amazing.
The photo below was taken above the town of Jerome looking down into the valley and the town of Cottonwood. The say you can see 50 miles on a clear day.
Even though we were not able to visit the mine museum, our original destination, it turned out to be yet another wonderful day of exploring.