The Wickedest Town in the West
1909 Photo of Jerome Az
In its heyday, owing to its large number of brothels, saloons, and opium dens, Jerome, Arizona was known as the “wickedest town in the west.” Located between Flagstaff and Prescott and about 20 miles from Sedona, Jerome was once a thriving copper mining town that also boasted silver, gold, and zinc. Although today’s Jerome is an artistic community, it still one of Arizona’s best examples of an old western ghost town and many travelers visit Jerome to hunt for ghostly traces of its wild past.
Jerome’s Notorious Past
Known as the “largest ghost town in America,” Jerome is situated on the side of Cleopatra Hill and was founded in 1876. At one time (around 1900), the town’s mines produced a monthly load of three million pounds of copper. For a population of roughly three thousand, this was a significant source of revenue. Consequently, the town grew as did its more unsavory elements—namely, the brothels and saloons. The town suffered many fires in its early years leading many to believe it was being punished for its wily ways.
Although the town suffered seriously during the Great Depression and the mines eventually all shut down, Jerome has managed to escape the fate of most western ghost towns—it is still home to a vibrant community and has transformed into an Arizona attraction bringing many visitors throughout the year.
Although Jerome retains many historic structures and a captivating charm straight out of its old western days, modern-day Jerome is an important center of Arizona tourism and a thriving artist community. Although the town’s precarious geography (perched on a hill) has been responsible for some of the loss of historic structures, many old buildings still stand including the infamous “Prostitution Row.” Ghost town enthusiasts and history lovers make their way around Jerome delighting in the many structures and sections that still retain the town’s old mining past.
To truly get a feel for the old mining way of life, be sure to stop and visit the nearby Gold King Mine. Visitors can walk through an old gold mine and witness the vintage mining gear that was used to empty the mine long ago. There is also a petting zoo and a genuine 1901 blacksmith shop to add to the site’s appeal. Other important stops and landmarks of Jerome include the Douglas Mansion, the Little Daisy Hotel, the “Cribs District,” the Jerome Grand Hotel, the United Verde Apartments, the Powder Box Church, the United Verde Railroad Depot, and the Open Pit area.
Whether traveling to Jerome to view the work of its resident artists or coming to experience its ghostly past, a trip to Jerome will not disappoint. There is plenty to see and do for all ages.
Distance Guide From Jerome Az
Camp Verde: 20 miles from Jerome.
Clarkdale: 6 miles from Jerome.
Cottonwood: 10 miles from Jerome.
Flagstaff: 60 miles from Jerome.
Phoenix: 90 miles from Jerome
Prescott: 30 miles from Jerome.
Sedona: 20 miles from Jerome.
Map and Directions