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On Walkabout In: Jerome, Arizona

Basic Information

  • Name: Jerome
  • Where: Arizona, USA
  • Population: 444
  • Founded: 1876
  • More Information: AzJerome.com

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

Narrative

One of the day trips my family and I took during our visit to Prescott, Arizona was to drive over the 7,815 foot Mingus Mountain to the historic mining community of Jerome:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

Jerome is only 34 miles from Prescott on Arizona Highway 89a, but since the road winds up and over Mingus Mountain it actually makes for a longer than expected one hour plus drive:


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The drive on Highway 89a begins by traversing over the grasslands of Prescott Valley before suddenly gaining in altitude and entering a whole different world of steep hillsides and pine trees on Mingus Mountain:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

Via Wikipedia it claims that according to the book, Roadside History of Arizona, by Marshall Trimble, “Mingus Mountain was named for Joseph and Jacob Mingus, two brothers who settled in the area in the 1880s and later operated a sawmill near the base of the mountain”. Another source attributes the name to William Mingus a pioneer prospector who lived and worked on Mingus Mountain in the 1870s.  I do not know for sure who the mountain is named after, but what I do know is that this is a very unexpectedly beautiful place:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

As Highway 89A crests over Mingus Mountain and descends to the east the terrain noticeably changes from lush forests to small bushes and trees:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

Then on eastern slopes of the mountain the terrain changes totally to rugged red and orange colored rock:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

After crossing from the west it is hard to believe that I was still on the same mountain with all the red and orange colored rock everywhere:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

Something else that was noticeable was that a number of old mines that were visible along the road:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

These old mines were definitely a sign that the historic mining community of Jerome was near.  Soon enough the road comes around a curve and enters suddenly into Jerome:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

The buildings in Jerome are all built on the side of Cleopatra Hill which contains a number of rich ore deposits.  The town sits at an elevation of 5,100 feet that makes it lower than nearby Prescott on the other side of Mingus Mountain, but it feels higher because of the sweeping views down into the much lower Verde Valley:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

In 1876 miners began to excavate these deposits which led to the creation of the town around the mines.  In 1882 the United Verde Company bought and consolidated the claims and named the mining camp Jerome after Eugene Jerome who was a major financier of the company.  By the 1920’s the population grew to a population of 15,000 people.    When the mines closed in the 1950’s the population dropped to below 100 people.  Today Jerome has become a tourist attraction due to the various artists who have set up shop in the town and caused a revival.  Now most buildings in Jerome have been fixed up and house a number of businesses:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

Many of the tourists to Jerome I noticed were motorcycle riders who could be seen frequenting various businesses throughout Jerome:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

Even the local municipal buildings like the Fire Station have been nicely restored in Jerome:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

I did not have a whole lot of time available to fully explore the town, but there are various museums and walking tours available for visitors to learn more about Jerome’s history.  Before driving out of Jerome there is a really good overlook that provides a good view of the precarious perch Jerome has on the side of Cleopatra Hill:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

From the lookout I could also see the Jerome State Historic Park which is where the Douglas Mansion is located:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

The Douglas Mansion was built in 1916 by mining entrepreneur Jimmy Douglas on a hill above the Little Daisy Mine that he owned.  According to Wikipedia, Douglas designed the house as a hotel for mining officials and investors as well as for his own family.  The house is considered the largest adobe structure in Arizona.  In 1962 the Douglas family donated the house to the State of Arizona where it became a museum devoted to history of the Jerome area and the Douglas family.  The next time I am in Jerome I will definitely have to check this museum out.

Anyway here is one final panorama picture I took from the lookout that shows Jerome on the left and the Douglas Mansion towards the right:

Pictures from Jerome, Arizona

Conclusion

Jerome is definitely an interesting town that is well worth an entire day to check out.  Unfortunately I did not have that much time available to fully explore the town like I would want to.  I had to get back to Prescott and pack our belongings and get my kids to sleep early because the next day we were getting up early to spend the day at what we hoped would be the highlight of our trip to Arizona, the Grand Canyon.

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