At just under the one mile elevation, Jerome overlooks the entire Verde Valley with views equal to that of the Grand Canyon. Jerome would prove to be one of the richest mines in the world, often being called the Billion Dollar Copper Camp. With a population of near 15,000 in 1929, dwindling down to less than 100 in 1955, Jerome now supports its approximately 550 residents through tourism.
The first mining claims were filed in 1876, but it was William A Clark who would put Jerome on the map by purchasing the United Verde Copper Company in 1888 for $80,000.00. Clark was responsible for bringing in the narrow guage railroad which boasted 187 curves and 28 bridges in the last 14 miles of its 27 mile run. Before the turn of the century, Clark was netting one million dollars a month!
The 200 room Montana Hotel opened its doors in 1900 and was deemed "The finest and most
ornate hostelry in Arizona Territory". Fire destroyed this magnificent building in 1915 but you can still see the foundation.
Clark and his United Verde Copper Company operated one of the most modern operations known at the time. At the turn of the century, electric locomotives took the place of mules in the tunnels. In 1909, the Town of Jerome was supplied with electricity. By 1916, ore was transported through the 1 1/4 mile Hopewell tunnel to the newly constructed smelter in Clarkdale.
Clark maintained some of the strictest safety requirements for his workers. Housing, pay scale, schooling and medical care were of the very best to be found anywhere in the country. Clark pioneered many of the benefits taken for granted today in addition to building the first family planned community in the nation, that being Clarkdale, which was started in 1912.
While Jerome also continued to grow, it was to go through many changes. The town was incorporated in 1899. In 1903, The New York Sun ran the headline THIS JEROME IS A BAD ONE. THE ARIZONA COPPER CAMP NOW THE WICKEDEST TOWN. While this news was not taken well by residents of Jerome, the Town did have its side of wine, women and song. The Jerome Town Council barred women from saloons in 1905. In 1906, with the election of a new council, the women were able to return.
Churches and schools were being built and Clark was to build three swimming pools, a ball park, a golf course with clubhouse located in Clarkdale and a clubhouse in Jerome.
The United Verde Extension (UVX) started production in 1918 and was headed by James S. Douglas. This added an additional boom to Jerome and was to produce over 100 million dollars by its closing in 1938. The Douglas Mansion is not The Jerome State Park.
In 1935, Phelps Dodge Mining Corp. puchased the United Verde Copper Company for $22,800,000.00 and operated the mine until its closing in 1953. Although the existing company homes and building have been sold off in the past 10 years, Phelps Dodge still owns the mining rights of the United Verde Copper Company. Exploration is going on at this date, and with the new techniques now being used, it is possible that the mine will start operations early in the new century.
Through its mining operations, the end result produced 2 1/2 billion pounds of copper, 50 million ounces of silver and 1 million pounds of gold. The 88 miles of tunnels are still under the town with some reaching almost one mile down.