Jerome, Arizona – Copper Queen on the Hill

Jerome, Arizona buildings by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Jerome, Arizona buildings by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Though the town was thriving, a cauldron of dissatisfaction was also boiling. The miners were getting extremely unhappy about pay and working conditions in the mines. Union organizers were active, especially that of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), most often called the “Wobblies.” This group, who had been widely loathed by middle-class America, became much feared and hated at the outbreak of the war because many of their members were foreign and they posted a threat to the social and industrial order. They were also found to be “suspicious” simply because they were “Easterners.”

Though the non-miners may have been suspicious, the miners joined the union in waves and by May 1917, strikes were in full force in all of the mines in the Jerome area, and a month later, they had spread statewide. But the mine owners in Jerome were having none of it. On July 12th, armed agents of the mine owners roughly rounded up some 67 labor union organizers and unionized miners on a railroad cattle car and shipped them to KingmanArizona, warning them not to return if they valued their lives, an event that became known as the Jerome Deportation.

Connor Hotel in Jerome, Arizona by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Hotel Connor in Jerome, Arizona by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

After the war, the price of copper ore began to decline and had become harder and harder to extract from the mountain. By the time the Great Depression began, Jerome, along with the rest of the nation was in a full-blown depression and by 1930, the mines had closed. However, in 1935, Phelps Dodge bought up the vast majority of mining operating 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 a dire consequence on the city of Jerome, as the town began to slide down the hill. Some businesses, including a movie theater, pharmacy, pool hall and JC Penney’s made an unwanted move. Other businesses simply crumbled. Jerome’s famous “Sliding Jail” can still be seen hundreds of feet downhill from its original location.

But the hardy residents of the town continued to “hang on” and when WWII, copper prices increased once again, putting the town “back in business.” But, the rich copper ore was dwindling and getting even harder to get to. After the war, prices dropped once again and finally, 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.

Jerome, AZ Mining Remains

Remnants of mining in Jerome, Arizona by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

With no work, families moved in the masses. Many, with no buyers for their homes, simply left them, complete with furnishings, before making their way on to other opportunities. With only about 100 residents left in the town, buildings began to deteriorate, continued to slip down the hill, or suffered vandalism over the next two decades, despite the efforts of the Jerome Historical Society.

However, in the late 1960s, new residents, enchanted with the old town, began to move in once again. It soon developed into an artists’ community and tourist destination. On April 19, 1967, the Jerome Historic District was officially designated a Registered National Historic Landmark and “That the past may live” became the town’s official motto.

The town began to promote itself as America’s newest and biggest ghost town and more and more tourists began to visit, with some deciding to make it their home, gradually increasing the town’s population.

Civic Center in Jerome, Arizona by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Civic Center in Jerome, Arizona by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

Today, this quaint town of about 400 residents provides tourists with not only a view of the past in its numerous historic buildings, but also a number of specialty shops, restaurants, and galleries. Take a walking tour of Jerome, where you’ll see restored historic structures and others with plans for restoration.

One interesting area is the “Crib District” across the street from the English Kitchen, in a back alley where all the buildings were are part of Jerome’s ill-famed “prostitution row. Air-conditioning is provided by Mother Nature, as the temperatures in Jerome are about 20 degrees cooler than in the Verde Valley.

In addition to its many photo opportunities, Jerome provides a number of attractions including the Douglas Mansion State Park, a 1916 mansion and museum; carriage tours, and the Jerome Historical Society Museum. Nearby, ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad, some ten minutes away; the Blazin’ M Ranch, a family entertainment center in Cottonwood; and the Tuzigoot National Monument, a 12th-century Indian village.

Haynes and the Gold King Mine

Haynes, Arizona is located just one mile north of Jerome.

Just about a mile north of Jerome is another 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. Though they didn’t find copper, they got even luckier and discovered gold. In 1901 it boasted a population of 301 people. Even though it was so close to Jerome, it boasted its own post office from 1908 to 1922.

But, for Haynes, like Jerome and other area mines, the ore wouldn’t last forever. By 1914, it was called home to only 14 people and soon emptied out completely. 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.

Of the buildings, some are original including the 1901 blacksmith shop, the clapboard hilltop home, which was once used as a boarding house and served a short stint as a bordello; and a 1914 sawmill that still fills lumber orders. Other buildings were brought in from the area, and some were reconstructed utilizing old lumber. The “town” provides demonstrations of antique mining equipment, the world’s largest gas engines, features dozens of classic cars and trucks, and provides a billion-dollar view of the Verde Valley.

Haynes is located at 1000 Perkinsville Road just north of Jerome. If this isn’t enough to arouse the usual tourist’s interest, it should come as no surprise that Jerome is allegedly haunted. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. Click HERE!

Jerome, Arizona is located between Prescott and Flagstaff on AZ Alternate 89.

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated October 2019.

See our Jerome-Haynes Photo Gallery HERE

Also See:

Arizona Ghost Towns & Mining Camps

Arizona Main Page

Haunted Jerome, Arizona

Mining on the American Frontier

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