In the late 1800s, the mining town of Jerome, Arizona, was dubbed one of the wildest and wickedest towns in America. Drifters, gamblers, professional drinkers, and ladies of the night all sought to get rich quick in the shadow of one of the West’s most prosperous copper mines. Business thrived until the 1930s when the Great Depression led to a sharp decline in copper demand.
Jerome languished until 1967 when the remaining residents managed to have the town designated a National Historic Landmark. They drew tourists with the tagline “America’s Largest Ghost Town.” At the peak of economic downturns, the population had plummeted to just 50 residents. However, as the 20th century progressed, artists began to breathe new life into Arizona’s once-rustic mining town, preserving many of its original structures.
Today, perched on the near-vertical slope of Cleopatra Hill, Jerome boasts classic buildings transformed into thriving modern establishments—wine bars, boutique shops, and barbershops, to name a few. Tool and Pucifer singer, Maynard James Keenan, operates a Pucifer store selling band-themed merchandise, including shirts, records, and aviator glasses. Additionally, he runs Barbifer, a barbershop that offers trendy men’s haircuts, and Caduceus, a wine tasting room where visitors can sample his locally-produced wines.
Those seeking a genuine ghost town adventure will find Jerome doesn’t disappoint. It houses a deteriorating post office being taken over by nature, a closed jailhouse that once slid down the perilous Cleopatra Hill, and an allegedly haunted hotel, previously the town’s hospital. The owner of the Jerome Grand Hotel, initially doubtful of any supernatural occurrences, now shares stories of psychics communicating with the spirit of a nurse. Displeased about the nursing station’s removal during 1990s renovations, the nurse’s spirit seemingly found solace when a cabinet from the original hospital was installed in the hotel’s restaurant in 2003.
Just a stone’s throw away is the Gold King Mine Ghost Town, established on a former gold mine’s grounds. Here, visitors can marvel at vintage mining and industrial equipment, classic cars, and motorcycles, or even try their hand at gold panning. The site also hosts a delightful miniature petting zoo with donkeys, goats, and chickens awaiting friendly interactions.
With a current population of 500, Jerome seamlessly blends the past with the present. Traces of its boisterous mining camp history are visible, but its current embodiment is that of a chic, artistic town that hasn’t lost its rough edges. For those enamored with the Old West, a visit to Jerome is sure to captivate.