- Arizona's Richest Ghost Town -
Anyone who makes the trek to Sedona will probably want to visit Jerome, which was built on the side of Cleopatra Hill, to check out the old hippy town of the 1970s. It is a very special art community with a colorful past and loads of history, including ghosts! You can just look down any street and marvel at the buildings' design, especially those on stilts! Every store is unique; many offer views of the Verde Valley below out of East facing windows.
I can only wonder what this town was like in the heyday of the copper mining boom. Currently, there are less than 600 residents living in Jerome.
The Rich History of Jerome
Before the Spanish settlers appeared in the 1500s, the natives mined stones and copper for their jewelry. You can still run across ruins of Native American habitats throughout the Verde Valley. Once the conquistadors arrived, the natives showed the Europeans the area where they mined copper up on Cleopatra Hill.
As Legends Go...
Legend states that the conquistadors sought "El Cibola" (the mythic Seven Cities of Gold). It is said that the conquistadors found a vein of gold and hid it somewhere in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area, which is just north of Clarkdale.
There have been old miners who have searched the area and other rumors that the gold was found. But to this day, there is no evidence of any such find.
The Mining Heyday
Those seeking the prosperous fortunes of the Wild West started to arrive in the mid-1870s. By 1888, Montana Senator W.A. Clark acquired the mining rights and, a year later, bought control of the claim on Cleopatra Hill. He formed the United Verde Copper Company, which produced over one billion dollars of mostly copper, but some gold and silver. The town of Clarkdale, directly below Jerome in the Verde Valley, is named after the Montana Senator. BTW, he has a colorful history as well! Clark County, Nevada, home of Las Vegas, is also named after him.
Historical Image courtesy of WesternMiningHistory.com
Pioneers, including other countries, came from all over to stake claims and collect riches, and the bordellos and saloons came with it. One is pictured above! The buildings still stand today. If only the walls could talk!
All Good Things Come To An End
By the time the Great Depression hit, copper prices were declining, and it was too expensive to mine the little that was left. People started to leave by the droves and sold their homes for the pennies on the dollar. Those who couldn't sell just abandoned their property. When the price of copper climbed during WWII, there was a resurgence and some new lifeblood, but by 1952 the copper mines closed for good, and Jerome became a ghost town.
The Flower Children Discover Jerome
In the late 1960s, young people discovered the remnants of the town and took it over. They loved the area's energy and decided to rebuild and make a go of it. The town had a slow recovery but is a strong tourist attraction with plenty of eateries, the "Grand Hotel," and art boutiques. The past history still lingers today, along with ghost stories and rich history as one of America's most prosperous mining areas and the reason a lot of people decided to settle in the Verde Valley!
When you visit Sedona, make sure you allow a day trip to see the sights of Jerome, which is about 45 minutes away!
Check out the property for sale in Jerome, Arizona.
Old Copper Mine
Huge Boulder With Veins of Copper
Homes and businesses are built into the side of Cleopatra Hill.
The Jerome Grand Hotel is rich in history dating back almost 100 years. I have had dinner at the "Asylum" restaurant on numerous occasions. The food is scrumptious, but the views of the Verde Valley below are breathtaking. One dinner, we watched a monsoon sweep through the valley below. It was amazing to see from above. On another occasion, an "entity" visited one of our friends we were dining with. She is sensitive to energy disturbances. She abruptly left the table to deal with this!
According to Google: "During its days as the United Verde Hospital, an estimated 9000 deaths occurred; however, no known records are present, so that number has yet to be validated." During the Halloween Season, Jerome swells with tourism.
Looking toward the United Verde Copper Smelter remnants below in Clarkdale.