Jerome – “The Wickedest Town In The West”The United Verde Copper Company was established in 1882. Then Territorial Governor Trittle obtained ﬁnancing from NY investors James McDonald and Eugene Jerome (town’s namesake). The town and the mine ﬂourished for the next year until Copper prices plummeted to 5¢ a pound! – Jerome Chamber of Commerce Website.
In 1888, William Clark (Clarkdale namesake) who owned several claims in the area, bought United Verde Copper Company for $80,000. He made several improvements including a narrow gauge train from the Clarkdale area to Ash Fork and eventually with other major railroads so that he could move his ore cheaply from Jerome. He even built a smelter in what is now Clarkdale. You can still see the remnants of the smelter today. Also the train is a tourist attraction meandering along the Verde River and into the Ash Fork area where the engine is turned around for the return trip. This a a great train ride that boasts fantastic views with seasonal themed events throughout the year. You may even catch a glimpse of the two nesting Bald Eagles that inhabit the area close to the train’s tracks. Within 7 years of purchasing the mining company, Clark was netting $1 million a month! Meanwhile Jerome was bustling and in 1899 became the 5th largest city in the territory. When WWI started copper prices soared. The town went through a huge boom and the mines were operating 24 hours a day. Jerome quickly gained a notorious reputation as the “Wickedest Town In The West”. – NY Sun Time 2/5/1903 – The mine started to decline after the war and ﬁnally closed in 1952 for good. The town became a Ghost Town and the hippies came in the 1970’s and occupied the buildings. This started the resurgence of the community to what it is today, a thriving art and tourism community rich in Arizona History. Oh! By the way, those mines in the Verde Valley pulled in over $1 Billion in revenue! You can read the whole story at “Legends of America”.
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