Some Jerome residents have written histories and pamphlets about Jerome in various juicy, quirky, glorious eras. But most go back, and back again, to the wicked mining days for inspiration and write about ghosts, bordellos and gunslingers, themes that mirror ones that many tourists are attracted to: Ghosts of Cleopatra’s Hill; Jerome Times: Ghosts Upon the Page, and the latest to come across my doorstep,The Ghost of the Cuban Queen Bordello and Rich Town, Poor Town: Ghosts of Copper’s Past. The founding members of the Jerome Historical Society had their fingers on a certain pulse of Jerome when they wrapped themselves up in sheets, called themselves spooks and grandly proclaimed “The Past is our Future.”
Here are my reading favorites.
Herbert V. Young, who worked as a Secretary for William Andrews Clark, owner of the United Verde Copper Company, wrote two good ones: Ghosts of Cleopatra’s Hill and They Came to Jerome (Jerome Historical Society).
People interested in Jerome’s mining history should always start with these books first. Herb was still alive when I came to Jerome, a kindly old gentleman, who autographed his books for me. I refer to them so often that they’ve long since lost their bindings. He wrote about the men that became powerfully rich, the lawmen who tried to keep Jerome safe from considerable disorder and mayhem and Jerome’s ethnic diversity. Both books have great photos. The books are published by the Jerome Historical Society and are available to visitors at their Mine Museum and Gift Shop. Otherwise they can be ordered from Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/They-Came-Jerome-Herbert-Young/dp/0962100064
An excellent book about the social and economic effects of Jerome’s mining’s decline is Eric L. Clements’ book, After the Boom in Tombstone and Jerome, Arizona: Decline in Western Resource Towns (University of Nevada Press, 2003). This meticulously researched book is about population shifts, the effect of economic downturn on wages, schools, churches, and so on.
Roberto Rabago, Rich Town Poor Town: Ghosts of Copper’s Past (MultiCultural Educational Publishing Company, Jerome, 2011)
A fascinating, barely masked fictional account, about the more brutal aspects of what it was like to live and work in Jerome during its mining days, particularly if you were Mexican. Rabago grew up there as the son of a miner. “Keep in mind that the world of Jerome a century ago was a completely different world than today’s world. Then, there were no labor unions, no Fair Labor Standards Act, no OSHA, no antidiscrimination laws, no welfare, no worker’s compensation, no minimum wage, no unemployment insurance, on and on. Neither did a world of independent law and justice exist, because the all powerful mining companies were not restrained in any way by the regulations and laws that did exist. The mining companies were the law.” As a child, Rabago loved growing up in Jerome. But as he matured and heard stories from family and friends, he came to characterize Jerome as a penal colony—a remote town that was difficult to get to and equally difficult to leave. If you had a job in Jerome, you toed the line. The mining companies controlled all aspects of life. And should the miners rebel, the guns came out. The stories are plainly told and speak of pain and suffering within the families. . http://www.facebook.com/richtownpoortown/app_237643432966984
Ghost of the Cuban Queen Bordello by Peggy Hicks (self-published 2011) is a meticulously researched book about one of Jerome’s most famous mining day madams who established the upscale Cuban Queen Bordello. The book was inspired by Peggy’s ghostly encounter outside of the old building.
Like an old fashioned sleuth, Hicks follows the “Queen’s” life through the bordellos of New Orleans (the Queen called herself Juanita Gonzales then) to Las Vegas, where she meets and marries the legendary jazz pianist, Jelly Roll Morton (renaming herself Anita Morton or Anita Gonzales), to their brief high life in Los Angeles, to Jerome where she becomes Annie Johnson. There the story becomes more twisted when Annie Johnson falls in love with a handsome Irish miner, Jack Ford and ends by fleeing with him and kidnapping the four-year old son of a woman that had worked for her to Canyonville, AZ. It’s the stuff of movies and it is Peggy’s wish to interest some movie mogul to take on this wild tale. She’s already made a 15 minute documentary that won an award an an indie film festival in Jerome, Arizona see . The book is available at Arizona Discoveries in Jerome or at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Cuban-Queen-Bordello-Arizona/dp/0578073439
If you are a railroad buff and want to know about railroads that supported Jerome, then you read Russell Wahmann’s books. Wahmann was a volunteer archivist for the Jerome Historical Society in the early 1980’s. He loved railroads. The first book he put together was an Auto Road Log that followed the 26-mile route of the Narrow Gauge Railway from Jerome, Arizona to Chino Valley. http://www.amazon.com/Auto-Road-Log-Junction-Pacific/dp/B00318WNM6
Then he wrote Narrow Gauge: the United Verde And Pacific Railway, which gives a historical perspectives about what Wahmann calls ‘this noble little railway” that had such a dramatic effect in ensuring the wealth of the United Verde Mine. http://www.amazon.com/Narrow-Gauge-Jerome-Pacific-Railway/dp/0962100005/ref=sid_dp_dp
Russ’s book Verde Valley Railroads: Trestles, Tunnels and Tracks, written in collaboration with Robert des Granges, describes all the railroads that supported Jerome, AZ’s mining efforts.
There are a few other books about Jerome’s mining days out there, but these are my personal favorites.
Post 1953: Growth of Modern Jerome
Although magazine articles abound about Jerome, few books and pamphlets exist on what happened when the mines reduced Jerome to a virtual ghost city.
Ballad of a Laughing Mountain, written by Richard Snodgrass, and photographed by Art Clark (Counterpoint Productions 1957) contains mostly photographs and captions, but it absolutely captures the look and feel of Jerome in its ghost town days in the fifties. A rickity, poor town on the side of a mountain.
Jerome Times: Ghosts Upon the Page by Terry Molloy (self-published, 2005) is a collage of poetry and short tales. It contains one chapter that is personal memoir and history. Molloy’s chapter, “The White Ship” provides the best glimpse into what Jerome was like in the late sixties when Terry moved there and his life as a hippie. The rest of the book navigates some very imaginative shoals as he relates stories that are more mythology than history about old timers, madams and outcasts living in various eras of Jerome. More than a third of the book are poems that reach into Terry’s surreal encounters with himself, characters in Phoenix/Tempe, lost love and so on.
The title of Terry’s book derives from a series of 12 magazines published in the 1980’s called “The Jerome Times,” that were edited by Terry. The magazine’s covers were one of its true treasures. Gary Fife, publisher and art director concocted images of Jerome as a marina, A T-Base Space Launch in front of Jerome’s open pit, Jerome as a Buddhist temple, and so on.
The Birds of Jerome by Jo Van Leeuwen, self-published, characterizes and illustrates the seasonal birds that have come to live in Jerome after the fifties. Before then, Jerome and the mountains surrounding the town, were denuded of trees and other vegetation. What might have been left was killed in the sulfurous fogs of the smelters. New residents planned fruit trees, pines, flowers and vegetables. The town came back to life; and the birds followed. Joey’s backyard arboretum has almost as many species of tees as there are birds of Jerome. In the evening, Joey sits on the back porch with his binoculars and watches the birds feast on a smorgasbord of fruits, berries and nuts. A few stores carry this book in Jerome, notably the connor Hotel Bookshop; the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum and the Wary Buffalo. You could send Joey $15 postage to Box 395, Jerome, AZ 86331.
Home Sweet Jerome: Rescuing a Town from Its Ghosts, Diane Rapaport, will be published by Johnson Books (Big Earth Publishing) in Spring 2014. It will be the first book to chronicle how a dilapidated and virtual ghost town became one of Arizona’s art centers and celebrated destination resort.