Wickedest? So they say.
Ghosts among its residents? So they claim.
A ‘Must See’ for Arizona travelers? Without a doubt!
Just 100 miles from Phoenix, Arizona we hit the mother lode of tourist stops: Jerome, the old copper mining town on the slope of Cleopatra Hill.
Remnants of those good old mining days are visible along the twisty, turning drive that leads to the tiny town - like the slag heap below:
In its heyday – 15,000 residents in the 1920’s – Jerome was Arizona’s fourth largest city. Today’s population is 445 (not sure if that includes the ghosts) and its pay load is tourism. It’s a paranormal paradise for those of that persuasion.
And this welcoming little place, according to their tourism folks, was once, ‘the wickedest town in the west’.
Souvenir shops, restaurants, art galleries, B and B’s and hotels are housed in restored buildings. And some buildings like the old theatre simply offer an open door to imagination: What was it like in its heyday?
Other buildings simply gave way to the passing of time.
Jerome began as a frontier tent city in the late 1880’s. The copper mine that gave it life was the largest in Arizona, at one time producing three million tons a month.
The last mine shut down in 1953.
We’d considered staying at -- and perhaps ghost hunting -- at the Jerome Grand Hotel. It’s prominent profile towers above the town and can be seen for miles. It’s address – no joke - Hill Street. Guests can join in “Ghost Hunting” tours ($20 per person) on selected week day evenings. Participants are taken into ‘off limits areas’ of the hotel and are provided ghost hunting equipment as part of the hotel’s efforts to document its paranormal activities.
The hotel is housed in a 5-story Spanish Mission style building that when built in 1926 was the United Verde Hospital. It was considered the most modern hospital of its time, serving all of Northern Arizona. The hospital closed in the 1950’s and remained vacant (well, aside from the ghosts, I guess) until 1996 when renovation began. It opened as a hotel in 1996. It’s restaurant, The Asylum, has the sign above posted at its entry.
We’d also considered staying at another place on Hill Street, near the old hospital, The Surgeon’s House Bed and Breakfast. It was built for the hospital’s Chief Surgeon and has been on the National Historic Register since 1966.
One reason we didn’t stay in this gem of a town (and are kicking ourselves for not doing so now) was our concern that it might be a bit dead – no pun intended – when the day trippers left and stores closed.
We shouldn’t have worried. The number of restaurants and watering holes alone would have kept us busy hiking up and down the steep streets bar hopping.
Or we could have taken in a movie at the 1918 Liberty Theatre, the oldest operating silent movie theatre in Arizona. They now show silent films and ‘talkies’ for $3 a person.
The road to Jerome is a paved highway, Arizona 89A, that turns and twists up over the 7,000 foot summit of Mingus Mountain before looping through Jerome on its way to the valley floor. If you don’t like road trips or heights this isn’t for you, but if you want to take a trip back into America’s Wild West, this place shouldn’t be missed.
For more information: www.jeromechamber.com or www.azjerome.com
This is TravelnWrite’s contribution to Travel Photo Thursday. To take a few more photographic journey’s click on Budget Travelers Sandbox. If this is your first visit here, thanks for stopping by. Come back again – soon!