Monday, September 29, 2014

Jerome, Arizona

Perched high atop Cleopatra Hill overlooking the Verde Valley is the historic ghost town of Jerome, Arizona.
Once a thriving copper mining town, Jerome has survived by becoming a mecca for tourists.

The area was first inhabited by Natives as far back as 1100 A.D. By the time Spanish explorers came to the region in 1582, the Yavapai Indians were settled there. After the Mexican-American war ended in 1848 and the region became part of the United States, more Anglo-Americans began to settle the area. In 1863, gold was discovered near Prescott and thousands of miners flooded the region.
By the 1880’s investors saw the potential in copper and a number of mines were established, including the United Verde Copper Company in 1882. The town of Jerome was bustling and by 1899 had become the fifth largest city in the territory.

After the war, the price of copper ore declined and was harder and harder to extract from the mountain.
By the time the Great Depression began, Jerome was in a full blown depression and by 1930, all the mines had closed.
In 1935, Phelps Dodge bought up the vast majority of mining operations in the area and began to mine again, this time on a larger scale, using tons of explosives and creating a huge open pit just north of the town. Using a full scale underground railroad, the ore was moved to a new smelter in Clarksdale. The constant blasting and tunneling below the surface of the mountain had negative effects on the city of Jerome, as the town began to slide down the hill.
In 1952, Phelps Dodge closed its operations in Jerome forever. During its 70 years in operation, the United Verde Mine and others in the area produced in excess of $1 billion in copper, gold, silver, zinc and lead.

A mile north of Jerome is an old mining camp called Haynes. In 1890, it was the home of the Gold King Mine and a bustling suburb of Jerome. Astride one of the richest copper deposits in history, the Haynes Copper Company sank a shaft 1200 feet into the mountain and found gold. In 1901 it boasted a population of 301 people.

But, for Haynes, like Jerome and other area mines, the ore wouldn't last forever. In the 1960s it was sold and turned into a "ghost town" tourist attraction. Today, it is filled with a number of old buildings, a petting zoo, a walk-in mine, antique vehicles, and old machinery, much of which still operates today.

William Andrews Clark
Clark made his greatest fortune in the Southwest. His United Verde copper mine, in Jerome, Ariz., yielded a profit of $400,000 a month, or in today's dollars, $10 million a month. The trading post of Las Vegas was a stop on his rail line. Las Vegas today is in Clark County, named for him.

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