The Great Outdoors in the Vertical City
It is a truth that there is something out in the American desert that even the most avid hiker and hunter just has to visit. Jerome – ‘America’s Most Vertical City’ also owns the prestigious title of the ‘Largest Ghost Town in America,’ and is just waiting in Arizona for the people who love both the great outdoors and a walk back through time.
At the very top of Cleopatra Hill (which reaches 5,200 feet in the air), you will find this historic copper mining town that was once very correctly known as the wickedest town in the West. This small area grew from its initial Indian settlement home to nothing more than tents, to a bustling mining community where billions in copper was found.
Although the town was met with fires over the years, the city of Jerome is still standing. Not the fourth largest city in the Arizona Territory anymore, Jerome‘s once well-populated 15,000 back in the 1920’s was broken apart when The Depression came along and slowed the mining operation to a crawl.
Although, World War II brought a sudden increase in the demand for copper which made Jerome famous for a brief respite, demand slowed once again and Phelps Dodge Mine was finally closed in 1953. There were those small groups of hardy souls who stuck around over the years, and Jerome soon became a historic ghost town because of its amazing and unmatched past in the Wild West.
Now a designated National Historic District, Jerome is a thriving tourist Mecca; not to mention a solid artist community with a population of approximately 450.
But it’s truly the surrounding habitats that make Jerome, Arizona a 5-star attraction for the lovers of The Great Outdoors. In fact, when hikers, hunters and even lovers of history see that switch-back leading up to Jerome, they behold a breathtaking sight. For those who wish to leave the hiking gear behind and take the car, the small, narrow roads that show you the other side of the ever-elongating cliff-side make the eyes water, as you come face-to-face with mighty deer by the side of the road. The racks of antlers are startling. In other words, the buck has made sure to find a home in Jerome that no hunter wants to explore in order to find him.
For those who believe in the ghostly side of life, Jerome certainly provides that along with the stunning scenery and thriving wildlife. Over three-million-pounds of copper were mined every month in this small town and men from all over the world made their way to Arizona just to find work and a new way of life within the town’s borders.
A photographer’s paradise, Jerome hasn’t changed very much when it comes to its appearance in over 100 years; and many of the buildings still in use are the exact same buildings that were re-built after the fire of 1894. With many restored and others on tap for restoration, the town is looking more remarkable than ever, and has lovers of the Great Outdoors making sure to give them a huge A+ for hiking, exploring and hunting.
Because of the 30-degree incline of the mountainside, gravity has done its job over time and some of the buildings – including the old jail – literally sit there just waiting for their final fall. The gunslingers were here, the fights were waged and the historical battles are really something to learn about after that prize-buck is bagged.
So if you’re looking for that perfect hunting or hiking trip into the mountains this coming season, Jerome is most definitely the place to head. Perhaps that buck may just meet his match after all.