Today we drove to the west to visit the mountain-side community of Jerome. Jerome is a quirky little town built on the side of Mingus Mountain in the Black Hill Mountains. It was founded as a mining town 1883. Jerome was named for Eugene Murray Jerome, an early investor in the nearby United Verde Mine. Jerome, who lived in New York, never visited his namesake town.
Jerome was incorporated as a town on March 8, 1889. The town housed the workers of the United Verde Mine, which was to produce over $1 billion in copper, gold, silver, zinc, and lead over the next 70 years. Jerome became a notorious wild west town, a hotbed of prostitution, gambling, and vice. In 1903, the New York Sun proclaimed Jerome to be “the wickedest town in the West”. In 1929, the year of Jerome’s highest copper production, the town’s population was 15,000. As the mines played out and production fell, mines in the area began closing. By 1953, all had closed, and Jerome’s population dropped to a low of about 50. Today Jerome is a tourist destination, with many abandoned and refurbished buildings from its boom town days. We don’t care for tourist towns and little shops so we just drove through the town and out to a dirt road that lead up the mountain.
As we returned to Jerome we drove by what is labeled an old gold mine and museum. From the road it looked more like a junk yard for old mining equipment. But they did have a fairly simple security system.
On our way back from Jerome, we made a visit to the Tuzigoot National Monument. Tuzigoot National Monument preserves a 2 to 3 story pueblo ruin on the summit of a limestone and sandstone ridge 120 feet above the Verde River floodplain. The Tuzigoot Site is a complex of stone masonry rooms that were built along the spine of a natural outcrop in the Verde Valley. The pueblo has 110 rooms.
Tuzigoot is Apache for “crooked water”, from nearby Peck’s Lake, a cutoff meander of the Verde River. Historically, it was built by the Sinagua people between 1125 and 1400 CE. Tuzigoot is the largest and best-preserved of the many Sinagua pueblo ruins in the Verde Valley. The Sinagua disappeared after 1400 for unknown reasons and no related people exist today. Tuzigoot was excavated from 1933 to 1935 by Louis Caywood and Edward Spicer of the University of Arizona, with funding from the federal Civil Works Administration and Works Project Administration.
Tomorrow we’ll drive south to Camp Verde to visit another Sinagau ruin, Montezuma Castle. More on that later . . .