Jerome, Arizona is most commonly known as the “Billion Dollar Copper Camp.” But because of its precarious perch on the steep slopes of Cleopatra Hill at 5,435 feet above sea level, it’s also known as “America’s Most Vertical City.” Plus, the town’s namesake Eugene Jerome, was the cousin of Winston Churchill’s mother. All these claims to fame aside, perhaps the best reason to stop in this small town is to visit the recently re-opened Jerome State Historic Park.
The park’s renovated museum is considered to be the largest adobe structure in the state. Originally built by James “Rawhide” Douglas on a hill just above his Little Daisy Mine, the family mansion-turned-museum and visitor center has been an eye-catching landmark since 1916. The museum not only showcases the Douglas family, it preserves and interprets Jerome’s exciting mining history that begin in 1876. Indoor exhibits include historic photographs, furnishings from the Douglas’s home, minerals, an informative video presentation (narrated by ghosts!), and a 3-D model of the town with its underground mines. An outside exhibit area surrounding the mansion is filled with old mining equipment. The adjacent carriage house contains a buggy owned by the Douglas family, and “Smokey Joe” a 1929 Ford Model A truck.
After visiting Jerome State Historic Park, you may want to explore a bit more of the area. Near the park is the largest wooden headframe still standing in the state—the Audrey Shaft Headframe of the Little Daisy Mine. Over 397,000 tons of copper, 221 tons of silver, and 5.5 tons of gold were extracted from this mine. Once the fourth largest city in the Arizona Territory, Jerome’s population peaked around 15,000 during the mining boom. When the mines closed in the 1950s, it became a ghost town, but today it’s a small, thriving community of about 500. Many of the buildings in historic downtown Jerome now serve as restaurants and quirky and unusual shops and galleries. There’s also a mine museum on Main Street.
Since the town is small, it’s easiest to park in one spot and roam from there. Remember that Jerome is built on a hill, so take is slow if you’re normally a flatlander—you’ll be doing a bit of up and down walking a mile up in the air!
Jerome Museum & Visitor Center at Jerome State Historic Park
Phone: (928) 634-5381
Open 8:30 am – 5 pm Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday.
At press time, adult entrance fee is $5 and $2 for kids age 7-13.
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com