Monday, October 17, 2016

Jerome Ghost Town, Arizona!

     Jerome Ghost Town!
     Ghost town destinations are a fun topic during the month of October.  Visiting an old ghost town sometime around Halloween is a good way to get a thrill, because nearly every ghost town has a reputation for being haunted or cursed.  There actually are businesses that specialize in this kind of ghostly tourism venture.  During the last decade, paranormal tourism has become a viable industry in the west and this has helped to keep many old ghost towns on the map.
     Jerome, Arizona, is a historic ghost town that is definitely worth checking out!  The geology of the mountains in this area is what made this settlement happen.  A rich vein of copper bearing ore was exposed on the earth's surface.  The native people mined this ore for many years, till Spanish explorers noted the location on a map.  The ore bearing vein sat idle till the 1870's, when stakes were claimed.  The copper ore vein was loaded with gold and silver, so the first round of mining started a gold rush, which in turn was the beginning of the rough and rowdy western town of Jerome.  
     The amount of copper ore discovered at Jerome turned out to be worth much more than the traces of the secondary gold and silver metals.  In fact, the copper ore vein at Jerome turned out to be the biggest mother load in the world.  Because of copper value fluctuations, the copper mining at Jerome did not reach a peak until WWI when copper was in high demand.  At this time, Jerome was a bustling wild west city with a sizable population.
     Post WWI fluctuations in the price of copper caused periods of meager earnings mixed with a few booming years.  Eventually, the copper mining played out at some time in the late 1950's.  The geology of Jerome was also undergoing negative changes at this time, which made living in Jerome a high risk proposition.  The use of explosives in mining excavation techniques and shifting ancient volcanic fault lines made the steep slopes of the mountain unstable.  Since the town of Jerome was literally built on the steep mountain slopes, the unstable ground caused many building to slide downhill.  Many of the old historic buildings crumbled into piles of rubble and this was the final straw that broke the town's back.          
     Technically, Jerome is a living ghost town, because a small population remained in this place long after the boomtown era was over.  This town was never completely abandoned, but it was nearly forgotten by outsiders, because of its remote location in the mountains and its reputation for unstable ground.  Those who remained in Jerome had to shift gears and establish a tourist industry.  Jerome is now a haven for artists, craftsmen and ghost town tourism.     
     Coming from the direction of Prescott, Arizona, the roads leading to Jerome are a steep winding climb up the mountain that will test the ability of any car.  I did the mountain climb in a Dodge Scat Pack 392 Hemi Challenger with a six speed stick on a Sunday morning when no other cars were on the road.  Honestly, the drive was an adrenaline rush like no other and the sound of the big Hemi echoing in the canyon was pure inspiration.  
     Maybe the challenging drive up the mountain is why so many hot rod car rally and motorcycle rally organizers choose Jerome Ghost Town as a destination.  More than likely, it is because of the weekend party reputation that Jerome has become famous for.  
     Jerome is a great place to park the car and wander around on foot for the day.  The streets are lined with art studios, antique shops, wineries and specialty businesses that cater to visitors.  There are a few good saloons and eateries in Jerome that thrive off of the weekend warrior tourism industry.  
     There is even a restaurant in Jerome called Haunted Hamburger, which has a paranormal theme.  I just had to check this creepy restaurant out!  I was sat at a table on the open air veranda that overlooks the entire valley below.  The view was spectacular!  The Haunted Hamburger and the local craft beer was a pretty darn good lunch too.       
     Mountain biking and hiking trails in this region offer plenty of opportunity to get some fresh air.  History buffs will enjoy tours of the old Douglas Mansion, the Sliding Jail and Mine Museum.  Jerome even offers luxury hotel accommodations.  The Jerome Grand Hotel actually was a hospital from the old copper mining age.  The building was designed with a classic Spanish architectural theme, so converting the building to a luxury hotel was a natural choice.  The hotel sits high on top of the mountain and it overlooks the town below.  The famous Asylum Restaurant is located in the Jerome Grand Hotel and this place is a center for paranormal activities around town.
     Jerome can be a place for wild party times and it can be a peaceful retreat.  Many famous people like the seclusion that Jerome offers.  There are plenty of old homes that have been converted to bed & breakfast retreats.  Yes, some of the bed & breakfast joints offer a paranormal theme too.
     As one can see, there is no escaping the ghostly theme of Jerome.  This was once a wild gold mining boom town and plenty of people were gunned down in the streets.  Jerome has many unsolved murder mysteries and the ghosts of the past let their presence be known quite often.  The ghostly activity in Jerome is real and it is not just an advertising ploy to draw tourists.  Those who can sense the spirits will agree, Jerome is alive with ghostly acitivity. 
     There are few living ghost towns in the west that are like Jerome.  Jerome is unique from a design standpoint, because the town is located on such a steep mountain slope.  While wandering around the narrow streets and climbing the steep staircases, one cannot help but to imaging that this entire ghost town will eventually slide downhill.  Till then, Jerome is a great place to visit, especially during the Halloween paranormal tourism season!