Jerome, Arizona

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Unknown Unknown citn386p.jpg CI-TN-386 B&W 1200.0386.0000 citn386p Print 8x10 Historic Photographs Unknown Reproduction requires permission. Digital images property of SHM Library & Archives

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Jerome, like many other Arizona towns, was born with the discovery of rich ore deposits in its vicinity. Before Europeans arrived, Native Americans “mined” the mineral deposits of the area for pigments. Early Spanish and American explorers recognized the mineral deposits in the area, but it was not until the late 1870s that the first mining claims were filed. Minimal development work was done until transportation difficulties were somewhat resolved with development of rail lines from the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe main line to Prescott in 1887 and 1893. In 1887, William A. Clark, a prosperous miner and entrepreneur (and later senator) from Butte, Montana, purchased some of the small mining properties and began large scale mining operations. Four major fires in 1894 to 1899 devastated the downtown area, but could not destroy the underlying wealth. The rich copper ore deposits turned Jerome into a boom town; by 1929 the population had grown to an estimated 15,000. Clark's United Verde Copper Company and James (Rawhide Jimmy) Douglas' Verde Extension mines produced millions of dollars worth of copper, and enough gold and silver to pay much of the operating expenses. With prosperity came the usual influx of profiteers and Jerome was labeled as the wickedest town in America by the New York Sun newspaper. In 1935, Phelps Dodge Corporation purchased the United Verde property and continued operating it until 1953 when the last of the mines shut down. Jerome seemed doomed as the population dropped to less than 100. But a new breed of settlers slowly moved in and the town became a modern age tourist attraction and haven for artists, environmentalists, bikers, retirees and more.

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