The vertical city of artists and ghosts
Jerome, Arizona is a quirky town with an interesting history, nestled in the Black Hills Mountains, about 110 miles from Phoenix and 30 miles from Sedona. Jerome has been called “America’s Most Vertical City” and the “Largest Ghost Town in America.”
Jerome gets its reputation as a vertical city because it is perched at a 30-degree incline on Cleopatra Hill at an elevation of 5,200 feet.
Each street winds up the mountain, forming a town in tiers rather than a flat expanse of neighbouring streets. The town started as a copper mining camp and was incorporated in 1899. The population peaked at 15,000 in the 1920s. The wealthiest lived highest up the hill.
Jerome gets its reputation as the largest ghost town because of the number of supposedly haunted buildings. Jerome was a mining boom town once known as the wickedest town in the west. Over the years, accidents and incidents of foul play have left ghosts behind.
We visited Jerome with friends who had taken a haunted tour of Jermone on a previous visit Each tour member had been given an EMF meter to measure paranormal activity. The meter became extremely active in the resident stairway of the Connor Hotel. At one time, residents of the hotel would line up on that stairway, waiting their turn to use the telephone in the entryway at the foot of the stairs. The Connor Hotel has many stories of paranormal activity.
The Grand Hotel is another building that is supposedly haunted. This Spanish Mission style building was originally built as one of the most modern and best equipped hospitals in Arizona in 1927. It closed in 1950 and remained closed until 1994, when restoration began. Paranormal activity has been cited throughout the hotel, particularly in the first “self-service” elevator and the original boiler room. The clerk told us about a body being crushed under the elevator years ago. There are claims that the elevator has gone up and down on its own, without anyone it in or directing it.
I skimmed through a register at the front desk of the Grand Hotel. Guests recorded experiences about hearing wailing at night, feeling a sudden gust of cold, and windows rattling. Over the life of its mining history, Jerome has produced 2 ½ billion tons of copper. During the 1930s, dynamite blasts, combined with general shifting, caused parts of the town to crack or slide. One powerful blast caused a whole block to slide to the next level, including the “sliding jail”. The depression of the 1930s also slowed the mining. Despite a brief increase in demand for copper during World War II, the mines closed in 1953. 88 miles of tunnel still exist under Jerome.
In the 1970’s groups of artists moved into the empty buildings and reshaped the town into an artist community. Today, Jerome has a population of approximately 450, which includes artists, craft people, musicians, writers, hermits, gift shop owners, hoteliers, bed and breakfast operators, and even a winery. We watched a glassblower demonstrate his art in a shed on a property where nothing remained of the original building except the front facade.
After an enjoyable lunch at the Mile High Grill and Inn, we browsed the shops. There are many interesting shops, but I will mention one in particular. Nellie Bly contains a large collection of kaleidoscopes, ranging from simple and inexpensive to expensive hand-crafted works of art.
Even on a Monday in early February, tourists walked the streets. Among them, a class of school children from Gilbert on a field trip. On weekends, the town can become crowded. Jerome is a popular day trip destination.
Because of the paranormal activity associated with Jerome, I was told to watch for spirit orbs in photographs. The orbs are semi-transparent white balls seen floating in pictures taken in ghostly places. The orbs are not visible to the naked eye and show up only on camera. Believers consider the orbs to represent spirits of dead people. I snapped several photographs, but there is only one that may have orbs in it. It was taken in the hallway of the second floor of the Grand Hotel. Then again, they may be reflections from the mirror. I’m not sure.
We stayed in the Conner Hotel and were visited by many spirit orbs. We have many pictures with orbs in them from all over town and in our room. When using our cell phone camera we saw orbs whizing around as the little stutter flash seemed to exite them and we were even able to see some with the naked eye. I highly recommend a trip to Jeeome!
I have only driven through Jerome without stopping but would love to spend a night – and see if I can feel the spirits. It’s definitely one of America’s quirkier towns.
It is definitely a quirky town.
We lived in Montana for several years and loved visiting the deserted ghost towns around the state, especially the old graveyards. Jerome sounds like a fun city to visit and I love that it’s being “reincarnated,” so to speak, into a city of artists and other small businesses!
I like your choice of wording – a “reincarnated” town.
We visited Jerome several times while we were camped at Cottonwoid about 10 minutes away! Bought a fave sweater there and akso found a Filipino store owner. Good eats abound, too! Thanks for bringing up cool memories.
Glad it brought back cool memories. Cottonwood is a nice town as well (although quite different than Jerome).
We have a plan to visit Sedona – I now want to add Jerome to the itinerary! You always write about the most interesting places! Thank you Donna!
I love Sedona. I think you’ll enjoy it. Jerome is less than an hour drive from Sedona. If you don’t want to do the drive yourself, I think you can probably find tours out of Sedona going into Jerome.
Those definitely look like orbs to me! Well done! We’ve heard about the Connor and Grand Hotels in Jerome. I’m a real fan of visiting haunted places, but have a husband who isn’t a believer. I keep hoping for a “knock-his-socks-off” (but not mine, evidently!) experience that will leave him a changed man! 😉
I don’t particularly want to have my own “knock-your-socks-off” experience either, but it can be fun (and a little creepy sometimes) to visit haunted places.
I have never heard of this place, but definitely an interesting day trip. I’d say those are orbs in your photo 🙂 Thinking you might get hear wailing or whatever ghosts do would definitely keep you on your toes!
Yes, I’m not sure how easily I’d sleep in the hotel wondering what I might hear.
I did visit Jerome a while back. Thanks for refreshing my memory about this interesting town.
Glad it brought back some memories.
Your photos do a great job of capturing the “verticalness” of the town! Great post~
Thanks Irene. It is definitely a vertical city, each street a good long staircase below/above each other.
Can they only be seen on camera or did you see any in person? Spooky!
According to what I’ve read, orbs are just above the human eye spectrum and can normally only be seen in photographs.
Some of those photos made me dizzy-everyone in the town must be in good shape. The House of Joy looks like a recycler’s dream. Interesting spot Donna, I’ve never heard of it before and it looks like a great side trip from Sedona.
I think walking through the town on a regular basis would keep one in pretty good shape.
Wow Jerome sure does sound spooky! But I love spooky old towns and letting my imagination run riot. Loved your pics of the old hotel. What a great place to visit.
Jerome is a fun place to visit. And a little spooky too.