One of the most picturesque towns in Arizona, Jerome is situated on the side of a mountain and over the abandoned mines which once made the town. The colorful history of Jerome is quintessential to the history of Arizona.
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We now have, of course, an incredible tourist community, artist community, and so I think the legacy is preserving an entire community and trying to keep it as much -- I can't say keep it as much the way it was, but at least preserving that history.
This is really the story of Arizona , right here. People came here to get jobs and they came here for a life.
Jerome Historic State Park
Jerome Historic State Park information provided by Arizona State Parks. Includes Jerome history, park hours and admission, and upcoming park events.
The Jerome Historical Society
Society dedicated to the history of Jerome. Website includes information on the Mine Museum , Jerome Archives and Research Center , and Jerome Historical Society projects.
Life in Jerome , Arizona . It could be hard and dangerous. Life was about working the mines or meeting the needs of miners when they emerged from the earth after a long shift. Jerome grew out of the ground, the ground that prospectors grubbed for gold and later for silver. But copper would become the element of preference.
And as they worked their way from the gold to the silver, they were getting into copper. And with a demand for copper now as a result of increased use of electricity, copper prices are high enough and the ore in many cases rich enough that you could continue the same kind of lode mining with copper that you have done for gold and silver.
The United Verde Copper Company, named for the Verde Valley that yawns to the east, was founded in 1883. The mining camp and shacks that grew up around the mine were named after the company's primary investor, Eugene Jerome.
But he actually never came here. He invested his money, said, "You have to name the town after me," but that was it.
From the Douglas Mansion , the Douglas family could watch the fortunes of Jerome rise and fall. Set apart from the town itself, the mansion is symbolic of the power of Arizona mining. James Stuart Douglas, whose father was the first president of the Phelps Dodge Corporation, bought and developed the Little Daisy Mine in the early 1900s. A rich copper vein was found and the success of the Douglas family became emblematic of Jerome's boomtown years. The mansion overlooking the mine was a place of great taste and comfort to the family. But the miners' lives were not nearly so comfortable.
Generally, they might have worked 10-, maybe 12-hour shifts, and depending on what part of the mining operation you worked at, you know, you'd head into work, and if you went underground, you basically were underground all day doing really hard labor. You were shifting a lot of rock, you're drilling with equipment that's heavy and difficult to maneuver. You didn't have any safety equipment, and so it was very, very dangerous.
The work was so intense that when miners came up from the mines, all they wanted was a good meal and a place to lay their head, and -- you know, because they'd be back at it again once their shift started up. So, you know, it was grueling kind of work, and people didn't last at it terribly long.
What little pay the miners earned was coveted by the various enterprises that offered them relief from their labor.
Well, of course, we had the saloons, of which at that time there were probably about 27 that we know of that were advertising in the paper and what have you. We had two levels of prostitution here, actually. Around the corner from where we are now was the crib area where the women had their own rooms and worked independently, so to speak. And then we had the wealthier area over in this direction, and that was where you had the buildings like the Black Cat and the Cuban Queen, and those higher-class brothels had the madams and things.
Traveling the streets of Jerome today, the past mingles with the present. Aged remnants tell a story of contrast. In its boom years, Jerome could have been described as an international city, attracting people of many nationalities. But the majority were from Mexico .
The largest population was Mexicans, and they flocked to the area. They were -- they actually lived in a segregated section of town, and they were paid less, even though they were the ones that did most of the really hard labor.
Probably 75% of the people who had homes here at the time ran boarding houses, actually fed the miners, they rented out the rooms in the three shifts that the miners worked, and particularly the Hispanic population was very much involved in running boarding houses.
Steps are common in this vertical town, as well as evidence of gravity. At times, parts of Jerome slid down the mountain.
You know, it was a pretty big town. We had 50,000 people that lived here, but they were also blasting all the time. Mining entails blasting the rock away, and there's also a couple of geologic faults that are underneath the ground here, and so the mines were blasting considerably, and the ground started to shift, and the buildings on the side of the hill began to slide down. And of course the most famous one is the sliding jail, which slid something like 200 feet.
Eventually, the ore played out. Jerome was nearly abandoned, but was reborn as a tourist destination. In its colorful history, Jerome , Arizona , has survived fires, floods, the great depression, and the decline of mining. It lives today as a reminder of the tough people and hard living that gave birth to the town. And long-gone spirits seem to live still in the abandoned mines and distinctive facades of Jerome.