Thursday, April 28, 2011

Land Before Time: Jerome AZ

In another installment of the Arizona Adventures, we travel to a small, historic town precariously clinging to the side of a mountain: Jerome, Arizona.

Jerome is a town that grew out of a mining operation.  The first inhabitants were the mine workers.  The second inhabitants were the prostitutes, as miners were a lonely group and women were scarce.  In boom times the population of Jerome was supposedly somewhere around 15 000, which is hard to believe since the population now is about 500 full-time residents.

Jerome is famous for its history, and for its ghosts.  These ghosts are many and of various kinds.  Jerome was listed as a 'ghost city' for a while in the 1950's, apparently because the population plummeted when the mines finally closed.  I imagine it might have looked like a less grand modern-day Detroit (and if you haven't seen this collection of photographs of Motor City, you really should).  The legacy of Jerome's murky past lingers in the town.  There's a ghost hunt that visitors can go on, and there have been actual ghost investigations and reports of paranormal activity.  There's a distinctly eerie feeling about the Jerome Grand Hotel, which isn't necessarily aided by the restaurant in it's first floor, called "the Asylum".  Though this restaurant has a bit of a spooky name, it's actually very beautiful and not at all asylum-like.  We indulged in the most succulent King Crab legs (with a bottle of bubbly) that I may ever have in my entire life.

There's also a saloon, called the Spirit Room, that has been open since the 1880's.  It opened under a different name, as these things usually do, but the building remains unchanged, including the hotel above the bar, which a brave soul looking for a haunting can still book a room in.  Elaine and I drank bourbon and one of their epically delicious Bloody Marys (you know, if there's no Clamato in the house).  Among the awesomeness of Spirit Room is a wall of various bourbons and a very sweet juke box.

The Juke Box (it takes ones and rocks the house)

This town is very small, but there's a lot of cool history and good food and drink to be had.  I recommend visiting this place, especially since it's very easy to get to.  It's right on highway 89A, which takes one right into Sedona (and that drive was no more than 45 minutes).  And so, without further ado, behold, Jerome:

Looking towards Jerome, perched up in the hills, from Highway 89A

The mural and whiskey selection of the Spirit Room

The Mine Owner's home, now not owned by a mine owner (and
a view out over the plain, north east of Sedona)

Nellie Bly II, which was originally Jennie Banter's brothel (half-shadowed by a building
behind me, as the sun sets behind the mountain and illuminates
the canyon wall in the distance).

Looking at one of the main streets in town, from another street which is
higher on the hillside.  The town climbs like ivy on a wall.

Jerome Palace - famous for their Haunted Hamburgers!
Ooh!  So SCARY!!
** Once I get the last roll of film developed, I may have more photos to add, so stay tuned!

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