Jerome & Gold King Mine & Ghost Town...
Mar 13, 2010
|Today Dick & Lou and Larry & I spent an awesome afternoon visiting the nearby town of Jerome, and the really cool Gold King Mine and Ghost Town. The weather was perfect and there were nice clouds in the sky. That always makes for a good day to me!
Located high on top of Cleopatra Hill (5,200 feet), Jerome is a very interesting historic copper mining town. Once known as the wickedest town in the west, Jerome was a copper mining camp, growing from a settlement of tents to a roaring mining community. Four disastrous fires destroyed large sections of the town during its early history, resulting in the incorporation of the City of Jerome in 1899.
It sits above what was the largest copper mine in Arizona and produced an astonishing 3 million pounds of copper per month. Men and women from all over the world made their way to Arizona to find work and maybe a new way of life. The mines were nourished and exploited by financiers who brought a billion dollars worth of copper from its depths! There are still 88 miles of tunnels under the town, and there are four geological faults. Today the mines are silent, and Jerome has become the largest ghost town in America.
Now a bustling tourist magnet and artistic community with a population of about 450, it includes a modicum of artists, craft people, musicians, writers, hermits, bed and breakfast owners, museum caretakers, gift shop proprietors, historians and families.
Of course no trip to Jerome would be complete without visiting the Haunted Hamburger! The burgers were great! Nicely cooked, great homemade buns and add-your-own toppings. Larry and I split a mushroom/swiss and then added an order of zucchini. Wow, even splitting it we had more than enough!
Good thing we parked several blocks away, as it felt really good to walk it off a bit before heading on up the road to Gold King Mine and Ghost Town, a private attraction owned by Don Robertson. A good place to satisfy your curiosity about old mines and all the stuff you find around them, we paid our $8.50 per couple and spent the next hour and a half thoroughly entranced.
As we entered we noticed a little sign that says 'RUST IN PEACE' and there's plenty of stuff laying around doing just that. But Don doesn't let most of it rust for long because his avowed mission in life is: "I was put here on earth to save this beautiful old machinery from a horrible death in a blast furnace. And being that I'm saving it, I get it running and I show it to people so they can appreciate it." Larry & Dick really enjoyed listening to him. Don whiskered and wearing a floppy old hat, looking ten years older than he really is, really believes in his mission to save old machinery. A lot of it, destined for the graveyard of history, relive their stories under Don's magic touch.
We were surprised at how much stuff works, and fascinated with the rambling display of paraphernalia collected over the last ten years and the walk-in mine Don dug himself. Kids (and adults) are welcome to touch and climb on things! We found it interesting that he took a generator engine that was in a 1943 U.S. submarine & fixed it to run a turn-of-the-century sawmill. He says, "Submarine and sawmill both start with an "S" so I figured they ought to work good together. So I just did it."
Coming up the hill today we heard the piercing whistle from another ancient 30-horsepower, gas and kerosene saw mill that runs on two gallons of fuel all day. We enjoyed watching as they demonstrated all of the work they do here with it. Wish you had been here today Jack! You would have loved it.
And our day wouldn't have been complete without feeding Pedro Gonzales! It was comical to watch him ring the bell for more. And to watch Dick dodging the 'guard' chickens and guinea hens. In fact, there were many farm animals on the property.
So, was the crazy Gold King Mine and Ghost Town worth a visit? Yes, because there is an abandoned mine. And yes, because there are abandoned buildings like the old schoolhouse and the dentist office. And who can forget the bordello, the blacksmith and the Inn. But mostly, because strewn throughout the property is fascinating "junk." Classic trucks, tools, machines and so much more, all keeping us fascinated as we toured the property. Don't miss this one on your next trip to Jerome. You won't be sorry!
P.S. I took 182 pictures today so I am splitting them up. A few of Jerome in this post and the Mine & Ghost Town in the next. Enjoy!