Sally and I spent the last few days in the Jerome, Arizona area.
We left San Diego on Friday morning the 26th of April. The drive was via Interstate 8 to Yuma and then over 2 lane highways through Prescott and into Jerome. We had driven through Jerome a few years ago on a trip to Sedona. Didn't stop at the time but it seemed like an interesting place to visit. Jerome was a mining town. The United Verde copper mines opened in the 1880's and operated until 1953.
We stayed at the Jerome Grand Hotel which was originally a hospital. It operated up until the middle 50's and was kept in standby condition until the 70's when it finally closed. Today, it has been redecorated into a 32 room hotel.
Here is a view of the hotel overlooking the town. The hotel still has its original operating Otis elevator with manually operated doors.
On Saturday we explored the town. Not too much left of the town. The population peaked at about 15,000. When the mine closed in 1953, the population dipped to almost zero by the 1970's. A revival of sorts started then as hippies, artists and gift shops began to establish themselves. Today the town boasts a population of about 500 permanent residents. We visited the shops and had lunch in town.
Here is a shot of town taken from our hotel room.
The most interesting thing about the town is what is left of the mine and the railroads which supported the mines. OK, I'll be honest, the MOST interesting thing was the railroads. Four separate rail lines were built to move the copper and copper ore to market.
The first we found on Saturday afternoon during our town exploration. The United Verde and Pacific Railroad (UV&P) began operation in 1895. It was a narrow gauge line that ran from Jerome westward to what is now Chino Valley about 27 miles away. I found a book that showed the route and we could actually drive over it. The UV&P was replaced in 1920, the rails were removed and the right-of-way became a Forest Service road.
The UV&P was replaced by two lines, the Verde Valley Railroad and the Verde Tunnel & Smelter Railroad (VT&S). The VT&S ran from Jerome to the north to what became Clarkdale. Its main function was to transport ore from the mine to the Clarkdale smelter. The Verde Valley then transported the refined copper to Drake where it connected to the Santa Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railroad (SFP&P) which itself connected to Santa Fe Railroad. There are very few traces of the VT&S that we had time to locate which shut down with the mines in the 1950's. The Verde Valley Railroad is another story, that I'll save for later.
A new mine, the United Verde Extension (UVX) Mine began operation in 1922 and a new rail line, the Arizona-Extension Railway (A-E) was built. That line moved copper ore from Jerome to a newly built smelter at what is now Cottonwood. The unique thing about this line is that it really didn't go into Jerome but tunneled for 2.5 miles under the mountain and connected to the mines over 2000 feed underground. The UVX mine operated until 1938 at which time it and the A-E closed. The Josephine Tunnel still exists, we tried to find it couldn't figure how to actually get there.
What really amazes me is all the buildings and equipment that is no longer there. If you look at some of the links below, you can get a feel for the number of buildings, factories, railroad and mine equipment and support infrastructure that has been removed, most of it recycled to other uses.
On Sunday, our trip back in time continued on the Verde Canyon Railroad. This excursion train operates on the same right-of-way as the original Verde Valley. Our ride began at the site of the smelter in Clarkdale and continued for about 20 miles to Perkinsville about halfway to Drake. Here is a photo of the train at the station. What is left of the smelter are the buildings in the background.
Here is the Verde River. It had flowing water even though the area is going through a dry period just like San Diego.
Sunday was Sal's birthday so after the train ride, we had dinner in the very nice restaurant at the hotel.
On Monday, we drove to the Sedona area. We took a hike in the Red Rock State Park, a beautiful new state park surrounded by housing developments out in the middle of nowhere. The park really is nice. All kinds of hiking trails from short to long. We hiked about 5 miles over several of the trails.
We stopped for the afternoon in Sedona, amazed at the growth in the few years since our first trip there. They are working on a four lane highway between Cottonwood and Sedona but recently voted down a proposal to widen the 2 lane road between Sedona and I-17. We walked around the uptown area for a couple of hours and had lunch. The rest of the day, we spent running around looking for thrift stores - found a couple.
Tuesday's drive back to San Diego was uneventful, although pretty hot through the Arizona desert.
Some Web Links with more information:
Jerome Grand Hotel
Verde Valley RR
Jerome Historical Society
United Verde Mine
Another famous Jerome
We had a great time.
Mark and Sally
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