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Like so many mining towns, Jerome started out as a camp for the miners. It was overlooking the mighty Verde Valley, while resting on a 30 degree mountain side.
Soon the mines turned into one of the greatest copper-producing mines in the world. Along with that, the camp grew into a city.
Jerome was founded in 1876, after the first claim was staked by Al Sieber and following him M.A. Ruffner and Angus McKinnon. The city was named after Eugene Jerome from New York, who along with James A. MacDonald, formed a company in 1883 called the United Verde Copper Company.
Jerome had 36 different ethnicities, and 23 different languages were spoken.
The mine closed in 1884 and didn't open until a Senator and a Copper King from Montana, William A. Clark, along with Joseph L. Giroux, Montana mine superintendent, decided to buy the United Verde operation in 1888.
It ended up becoming the worlds richest privately-owned copper mine.
Mr. Clark started building and improving the city. He wanted to make sure his employees were well taken care of. He added a railroad and a hotel to start with, and with that, many saloons with gambling and prostitution began to operate. Unfortunately, as in many old cities, wood was used as the building material, and most towns burned down several times, until brick, stone and concrete replaced the wood. Jerome burned down 3 times between 1897 and 1899. One of the reasons for the fires was the slag from the smelter, a byproduct of mining, that was thrown down on the side of the mountain.
Due to illnesses and accidents in the mines, fires, and murders in the city, 4 per week, the death toll was quite high. A lot of the people couldn't afford to give their loved ones a proper burial, so Mr. Clark put an add on the paper offering the use of the smelter furnace for 50 dollars. What was left of the bodies, got mixed in with the slag. Slag was used as a binding material for concrete, which in turn was used to build streets, sidewalks and homes. So, if you feel like you are walking on dead people, you are probably right.
This is why many believe Jerome is haunted and truly a ghost town.
There are 88 miles of tunnels under the city. Many underground fires got ignited in several places, one of which burned a good 20 or so years. It took 22 000 pounds of dynamite to put it out.
Due to the fires, an open-pit operation was the only option to continue mining. The smelter had to be relocated and due to this, the town of Clarksdale was born in 1912.
The mine closed and opened a few times in the following years, until its permanent closure in 1953.
In 1966, the city of Jerome became a National Historic Landmark.
Today, Jerome is a tourist town with awesome little shops, restaurants, cool narrow streets and ghost tours. After all, it is said to be the "worlds largest ghost town". Every place in Jerome is considered haunted, except the Surgeon's House.
We, along with Grace Altman and Becki Marks from S.L.A.S.H., Psychic Medium Jennifer VonBehren and Eric VonBehren, took the Ghost Town Tour of Jerome. They do historic and haunted tours around Jerome. Our tour guide Maria Colecchio did an excellent job, and went out of her way to make sure that we got to see everything and then some. Please read under each picture to see what we found in some of the locations.
I recommend buying a Jerome, Arizona Tour Guide booklet for a self guided walking tour around this awesome little city for some great information and also taking one of the informative ghost/history tours in town.