Camping in the Snowies

Camping in the Snowies

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Jerome AZ day trip

Our son Ross, visiting from Nebraska, had not seen the mining town of Jerome. It was a perfect day trip distance from Phoenix of just over 100 miles. We took Interstate 17 to Cordes Junction and AZ Hwy 169 to Dewey turning north onto Hwy 89A. This narrow scenic highway climbed into pine forests twisting and turning upon itself many times as it traversed the mountains into Jerome. 
At one of the few turn outs, this was our first view of the Verde Valley in the distance. The highway is in the lower left. Dave's phone camera made this black and white photo.  Here are some other photos taken at that location.

Looking around us, we noticed a trestle that probably supported an ore tram car loaded with copper laden rock.

Around the bend and on a steep side hill Jerome suddenly appeared. Now an artists colony, Jerome came into being in 1876 when three prospectors staked claims on rich copper deposits. The name of the town came from an investor of the United Verde Copper Company that bought out the prospectors in 1883.  Eugene Jerome never visited the town. Another investor bought the company and built a railroad that made the mine profitable. A second major copper strike was discovered by James Douglas and the Little Daisy Mine came into being.  Along with the United Verde Mine, the area has produced over a billion dollars worth of copper, gold and silver. 
The pine covered hills were denuded to build the copper camp and vegetation never returned until the toxic fumes of the ore smelters ceased when the mines shut down.  A history of devastating fires, slumping hillsides and cave-ins has changed the face of this mining town. 

Thanks to historic preservation efforts by artists and historians, Jerome thrives on tourism nowadays.  The very narrow main streets are lined with art galleries and eateries using the old storefronts and maintaining the flavor of the mining town. We ate at a cafe that was once a car dealership and later a firehouse. 
This nifty Stella with side car could be had by inquiring at a store named Nelly Bly.

We toured the Douglas Mansion, built in 1916 by James Douglas just above his Little Daisy mine. He designed and built the home/hotel for his family and mining dignitaries and investors. Ahead of its time, it was built of Adobe bricks formed on site and concrete floors. It also had steam heat, a central vacuum system, a marble shower and a wine cellar.  The house was donated by the Douglas family to the Arizona State Parks system in 1962 and now is a museum worth visiting. It has great views of the Verde Valley and the San Francisco Peaks to the north. To the south are views of what is left of Jerome. 
                                             Jerome AZ

                             The view northwest from the Douglas Mansion. 

After an interesting day, we head home by way of Cottonwood, AZ and stop briefly to say hello to Arizona fiddler and fiddle maker Leonard Cook and his wife Laura. Back to Interstate 17 and home to Surprise by 5 PM.