Wednesday, September 28, 2011
One of the infamous madams of this town served as mayor for a while. At least two sheriffs have had to shoot and kill the bad guys. When the copper mine was founded, workers needed housing, and that is the beginning of Jerome. It became a bustling settlement on the side of the mountain where the main street is a switchback that becomes narrow enough in one place that it becomes a one way street. This is the infamous highway 89a. T shirts and caps carry the slogan "I survived highway 89a".
At one point in its rich and varied history, the high school boasted a state champion football team. But where you find hard working men such as these, you will probably find the provision of wild entertainment designed to help them spend their money on a "good time". And so there grew up with this town several bars and more than one bordello. The unique topography of the town, everythting being on a steep hillside, afforded an escape route out the back door of the brothel to the street below. When a suspicious wife came looking for her husband, he was seldom found thank to this service.
The fortunes of the town rose and fell dramatically, depending on the need and price of copper. At one point in her history, Jerome was the fifth largest city in the state of Arizona with fifteen thousand citizens in 1929. But after that fateful year, copper lost it's value, the mine closed and men looked for work with the WPA.
What eventually saved the town seems to be the influx of an artisan crowd of hippies and flower children, moving to the hills and making it an artist's village, cashing in on the rich history of the town to interest visitors and keep things going as a tourist trap. Whatever the town was, it is now a charming town above the Verde Valley where, just incidentally, the OPC is "mining" for souls with a fledgling church plant in Cottonwood. If you are ever in the area, you must visit Jerome, and if it is a weekend, visit our little church in Cottonwood.