Jerome became incorporated in 1898 and during the last 118 years, the town has fallen victim to prosperity, greed, explosions, fire, the Great Depression and has still managed to become the number one recommendation of things to do in Arizona by Phoenix Magazine.
Not many old mining towns survived after the Great Depression, but Jerome has managed to rise, fall and rise again. During its mining days, the population in Jerome peaked at 15,000 people and it was once known as the richest privately owned copper mine in the world (bringing in 29 million dollars in one year alone)!
We experienced two very different sides of Jerome on our visit. We saw the town socked in with fog, snow and sleet. There was no impressive view of Sedona in the backdrop and no sense of being in a town that sat precariously on the edge of a blasted out mountain. And yet, the fog added to the mystery and intrigue of the city. Running from store to store to avoid the harsh weather conditions, we met friendly shop owners, saw unique jewelry and heard a lot of great “wild west ghost stories” from the locals.
The second day was picture perfect and allowed us to gaze upon the gorgeous colors and rock formations of Sedona and experience the windy and steep road into town. We were able to visit the museums and mine shafts, see the buildings that slid down the hill due to considerable dynamite explosions and learn more about the history behind this “wicked” town.
Whether you are a geologist, history buff, artist or ghost hunter, this town is sure to delight any visitor with its rich history and mysterious vibe. As a visitor, it is easy to get submersed in the Douglas Mansion (aka Jerome State Historic Park), the Mine Museum and the Gold King Mine Museum.
History envelopes you and you can imagine the rowdy streets, the numerous open mine pits and the characters that must have mined this area. You can almost detect the scent of dirt, sweat, cigars and the determination to strike it rich. The photos and memorabilia in the various museums really help paint that picture of what life was like in Jerome. From the cave-ins to the earthquakes (Jerome sits on multiple fault lines), to the dynamite explosions where the mining companies would use over 250,000 pounds of TNT in one blast, to the large number of brothels, saloons and opium dens….it’s easy to see how Jerome earned the title of “Wickedest town in the West”.
Today, at 5,200 feet above sea level, Cleopatra Hill proudly overlooks the Verde Valley and the color soaked Sedona skyline. Now a tourist town with unique storefronts, quirky restaurants and plenty of local art and galleries, the area has become a popular travel destination. However, the town of Jerome still holds many haunted secrets that shroud this area and keep people intrigued and coming back for more.
The Totally Trailer Trio does not recommend taking large RV’s and trailers up to Jerome due to the narrow and winding streets. There is great camping and RV parks throughout the Verde Valley and Jerome sits between Flagstaff and Prescott, Arizona. We parked our trailer in Cottonwood and made day trips to Jerome.
Thankfully “people are tolerated” in Jerome!
Dodging the winter weather at the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum
Never ending view of Sedona from Jerome
Mining cart tracks deep inside the Jerome mining town
The ghost town built on the side of a mountain…Jerome, Arizona
Peering down a mine shaft that’s 1,900 feet deep! See the pic below to get an idea of just how deep that is…
The Audrey Shaft as seen above is 1900 feet deep as compared to these other notable landmarks
Hubby and little one exploring the Little Daisy Mine in Jerome
The eerie, blustery day in the historic town of Jerome