Jerome Travel Guide
Once dubbed ‘the wickedest town the west’ by the New York Post at the beginning of the 20th century, Jerome came from less notorious beginnings. When Spain still had a stake in Arizona during colonial times the area around the present city was a profitable mining region for silver and copper. The name Jerome comes from a mining camp that was built atop the 5,200 foot Cleopatra Hill in 1883, the namesake of Eugene Murray Jerome, the New York investor who kept the miners’ bellies full and financed the mining operations.
It didn’t come into existence as a bonafide city until 1889, when the Wild West era was in full swing and Jerome became the quintessential desert outpost Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood would come to popularize. Tragedy struck the mines in 1919 when flames burned out of control over 22 miles of underground passages. Open pit mining was then employed, and the town’s population swelled to over 15,000. The 1950s saw mining operations cease and Jerome became another kind of frontier stereotype - the ghost town.
Present day Jerome is a far cry from player pianos, gambling saloons and swishing pantaloons, though some of the historical buildings still stand and draw a consistent number of tourists. The city is a center for the arts, with over 30 galleries and studios. As could be expected from its bohemian inhabitants, it is a fairly liberal town in an otherwise conservative area.
The big ‘J’: you can’t miss Jerome perched high on Cleopatra Hill with the giant letter J marking the spot.
Main street: Jerome’s main drag displays both the former glory and present incarnations of this special city.
First Saturday Art Walk: every month the galleries and studios of Jerome coordinate an art walk that has become a popular event since its creation in 2006.
Sliding Jail: on Hull avenue has ended up 225 feet away from where it was originally built thanks to concussions caused by tunnels being blasted into the mountainside.