For Old West-history buffs, Jerome, Arizona, located 110 mi/175 km north of Phoenix, is a wondrous place. Miners began to work the area in the 1870s, and the town boomed and busted several times, depending on the price of copper.
When Jerome boomed, it was known to be wild and wicked, but the mines shut down for good in the 1950s. For a time, it seemed that Jerome might be completely abandoned, but an active, arty crowd revamped the area beginning in the 1960s. Art galleries remain a big part of Jerome's business community.
Incredibly, much of the town has actually slid down a hill over the years. The Sliding Jail and the privately owned Powder Box Church (built from empty dynamite boxes) are two of these less-than-solid structures. Both can only be viewed from the outside.
The Jerome State Historical Park provides a good overview of the town's mining history. The park's museum is housed in a 1916 mansion and contains video programs, mining tools and historic photos. Look for information on the fires that destroyed some businesses more than four times. http://azstateparks.com/parks/jero/index.html.
The Mine Museum will give you further background on the amount of money that changed hands in the heyday of the gold, silver and copper enterprises (http://jeromehistoricalsociety.com). Tourism continues to boost the downtown area, with a wealth of new opportunities for eating and lodging. Among the most recent renovation is that of the 1898 Connor Hotel, once again a linchpin of local activity.
The entire town is a step back in time, but the Grand Hotel is especially interesting. Ghost-hunting tours are offered on select weeknights. Everyone should eat at the hotel's Asylum Restaurant at least once.
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