Not eerie, but fun.
About 2 hours north of Phoenix (that’s 160 kilometers, or 100 miles if you prefer them) is a small town called Jerome. It’s heydays are long over, but it’s still worth a visit.Jerome is nestled underneath Cleopatra Hill, between Prescott and Sedona (Yavapai County). It got well known around the 1920ies, when about 10.000 people lived there and worked in the copper mines that were the richest ever found in any time or place. In the 1930ies some downtown buildings, including the jail, got destroyed due to a subsidence problem caused by the mining; only little time later, the mines got exhausted, people left. So right now there are only about 450 people living in Jerome. Which is a pity, if you ask me. Cause it’s beautiful located, overlooking Verde Valley and within the Prescott National Forest in an elevation of about 5,000 feet (1.500 meters).
In 1967 Jerome became a National Historic Landmark, and Douglas Mansion, where mine owner James S. Douglas Jr. lived with his family in the early 20th century, was turned into a museum. We’ve been there on a weekday in September and it was real fun. Inside Douglas Mansion you’ll learn a lot about mining back in the days, the history of Jerome and what I liked the most: You see how wealthy people back in the days lived. They have a lot of objects on display, such as a range of different stones found in Jerome, furniture from the 1920ies, the kitchen, bedroom… Make sure to take your time when visiting, as there are no audio guides and it’s a lot of reading. The admission fee is about $ 7 for adults and $ 4 for kids up to 14 years (www.azstateparks.com/Parks/Jero). We recommend to bring a small picnic and enjoy that on the terrace of Douglas Mansion (a lot of people apparently do so). The view over Verde Valley is just amazing!
After you’ve heard about Jerome’s brief but interesting history, you can either drive back down to the main street and shop there or follow Jerome Perkinsville Road a bit longer (don’t give up if the road ends and all that’s left is gravel; you’re on the right way!), until you reach signs directing you to Ghost Town. We’ve heard a lot of different opinions about the Jerome Ghost Town, so we’ll add our own here. Before you arrive at the actual entrance of the site, you cross something that might be called a graveyard for cars. Rusty oldtimers, trucks, car bodies – lots of it. That part looked very eerie as almost everything is grown over by plants; you hear nothing but the chirping of gitters, the air seems to be somehow liquid due to the heat. If you like Stephen King and know some of his works, this looks like he got all his inspiration here.
The main “Ghost Town” is fun to explore, but it is not a real Ghost Town: It’s not an abandoned village, it’s more like the private collection of old buildings, machines and some animals, like chicken. He definitely put a lot of work and thoughts into this project and even put together an ancient dentist’s, a shoe repair place and so on. Of course it’s very touristy and probably the most crowded “Ghost Town”, as there is one person – the owner – living there permanently. The entrance fee was about $ 5 dollars, I don’t remember that any more, but we both thought that it was well worth the money. We really liked it and do recommend visiting it, especially if you’re traveling with kids.