Gold King Mine & Ghost Town...
Mar 16, 2013
|In today's post John, Joyce, Larry & I tour the nearby town of Jerome and the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town one mile north. What is called the Gold King Mine today was originally Haynes, Az. In 1890 the small Haynes Copper Company dug a 1200 foot deep shaft in search of copper. They missed the copper but hit gold instead. The weather was perfect and there was a pretty blue 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.
At the end of Main Street sits the Fire Department & if you continue heading on up the road you arrive at the 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 $8.00 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 & John 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. He had us meet him way in the back and fired up a 1928 Studebaker Indy car that he races. In fact, he'd raced the previous weekend. Wow, it sounded amazing!
We were surprised at how much stuff works, and fascinated with the rambling display of paraphernalia collected over the last few years and the walk-in mine Don dug himself. 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 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. This is the coolest place, lol!
They were doing a bit of a 'fashion' shoot here today so after they left Joyce and I did a pose for you too! Of course we were missing the period attire but it was fun anyhow. Next door was a “guard dog” in a 1939 Studebaker,a little Chihuahua named Killer and boy, he is quite vicious. His home had a blanket, water dish and food dish. If you looked in, he bared his teeth and attacked the steering wheel. It was hilarious!
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. It's pretty cool!
P.S. Sorry for the amount of pics today. I think the guys will like it though, lol!
Actually, I've decided to split them up into two posts so check back again tomorrow :)