In the mid-80s, widowed but not grounded, I stayed in The Inn at Jerome. The towering French-oak bed in the Little Daisy room sported a panoramic view of Verde Valley’s orange cliffs, Sedona’s Red Rock Country, and the snow-covered San Francisco Peaks. The Spooks, Ghosts, and Goblins room has a history of wandering spirits, while other rooms like the Lariat and Lace or the Kiss and Tell promote romance. I saw neither ghosts nor experienced romance, but I spent evenings in the inn’s parlor, sipping sherry by a warm fire with other guests. On the first floor, a full B & B breakfast awaited me in the Jerome Grille. Over the next days, I hiked into Jerome’s history.
I fell in love. Jerome had bounced back from its ghosting days. Shops, cafes, old-time saloons and art galleries had materialized. Most buildings were stabilized to stop their flight down the mountain but today I blanch at inhabiting some of the “stilted” living quarters I see being used. The “Sliding Jail” was a casualty, the fault of The Fault. Jerome has braved underground dynamite explosions, three major fires, and Verde Fault shifting. I returned often.
On a balmy October 2003 evening, I drove up Hill Street, passing the old hospital (1917) and the Surgeon’s Mansion, once the home of the Head Surgeon, now a private B & B. My destination was the 1927 United Verde Hospital cleverly disguised as the Jerome Grand Hotel.
Following the ghost town theme, and in keeping with goblin season, Arizona’s mile-high historic landmark hotel was a Halloween web site. While a 21st century ATM lurked in the lobby, wrought iron doors of the 1926 Otis Elevator clanged shut behind me. It creakily transported me to my fifth-floor room. The room was a “standard,” one of 22 rooms renovated with 14 others in the process.
Instead of visiting the hotel Asylum Restaurant and Lounge, I joined a friend and descended the hill in the stark night to The Haunted Hamburger for a bewitching snack. In the display case, a 10-inch high chocolate cake resided. We thought it was just that, a display. The waitress brought Jack’s cheesecake and my chocolate dessert. It was grandé in every sense of the word. With a cold glass of milk and honest intent, I tackled it. I am “woman,” I can do anything! I still can’t believe it, but the cake won. That was a first. I did not finish that scrumptious delight.
The next morning we wandered down Jerome Avenue. Since I was still full of chocolate cake, I ordered The Little Daisy Mini-Breakfast at The English Kitchen, Arizona’s oldest restaurant (1899). On other trips, I have enjoyed their mouth-watering homemade pies. Our shaded outside table was a great place to watch the view unfold.
Upper Park, between Clark and Main streets, is also a good observation point. Above is the Holy Family Catholic Church (1898), renovated and a treasure to walk through. A view of Main Street reveals its colorful and unique shops. My favorite is the Nellie Bly Kaleidoscope and Art Glass Shop. It has a $5,000 kaleidoscope fixed above an enormous bowl planted with colorful flowers. As the bowl turns, the kaleidoscope picks up the flower colors. Out of next week’s grocery money perhaps?
The Mine Museum is easily located by its two four-ton flywheel halves. It is now owned by the Jerome Historic Society, which preserves Jerome’s history, buildings, photographs and documents. It was a company town. In 1935, United Verde sold to Phelps Dodge Corporation. Since they still own a great deal of Jerome’s significant property, it still is a company town, though mining operations were closed in 1953.
The House of Joy is on Hull Avenue. My brother and his wife took me there years ago for a candlelit gourmet dinner. Besides serving good food, the server told stories about this mining town bordello. Further along Hull Street, Spook Hall is for rent if you want to party with 350 of your closest friends. The building once housed Arizona’s largest J. C. Penney’s store.
Tough on RVs
Because of its winding, narrow steep streets, Jerome is not particularly RV friendly but I have parked my 27-foot Sprinter in the Hull Avenue parking lot. Large RVs do not easily negotiate Hairpin Bend at the west end of Main Street on 89A that continues over Mingus Mountain to Prescott Valley. Campgrounds are within ten miles.
On the Mine Museum Road, you’ll pass the Powderbox Church. This former Methodist Church was built of scraps from discarded dynamite boxes and stucco. It is currently a private home. The Little Daisy Hotel, built in 1918 as a miner boarding house and employee clinic, is on the same road. The Spanish style building, almost destroyed by fifty years of neglect and vandalism, is also a restored private home.
Although Spanish missionaries noted that the natives mined copper as early as 1582, it wasn’t until 1886 that the United Verde Copper Company seriously mined the mountain. Owner James S. Douglas built an adobe brick mansion on a hilltop overlooking the Little Daisy Mine in 1916. The mansion is now part of Jerome State Historic Park, where you will find an interesting three-dimensional presentation of 88 tunnel miles beneath the town. Inside displays will keep you busy, but don’t neglect the outside carriages, milling machinery, wagons, and ore car exhibits. A movie chronicles Jerome’s history.
I’ve barely touched the mixture of Now and Then and Way Back When. I hope you’ll swoop in and see this lively ghost town for yourself.
(For more information about Jerome, contact the Jerome Chamber of Commerce at (928) 634-2900 or see www.jeromechamber.com.)
For information about six RV-related books written by Sharlene Minshall, see www.full-time-rver.com. Send questions or comments to email@example.com.
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