The History of Jerome
Sloping off the eastern side of Cleopatra Hill, nearly 100 miles from Phoenix, is the town of Jerome, Ariz. With a population of nearly 500, Jerome has a rich history that's not so evident from its status as primarily an art colony.
Jerome's history is defined by the copper industry. In the 1880s, miners began settling in the area, and by 1912, William A. Clark, owner of the United Verde Copper Company, had turned Jerome into one of the most modern industrial towns in the nation. The copper industry in Jerome had exploded into a billion-dollar industry.
New York lawyer Eugene Jerome took notice of the town's potential and heavily invested in United Verde Copper. Although he never actually visited the town, it took his name.
Eugene Jerome was a member of a prestigious family. His cousin, Jennie Jerome, was a well-known aristocrat who married the son of a British duke. In 1874, Jennie gave birth to Winston Churchill, who would later become the British prime minister.
As mining grew in Jerome, the town's population skyrocketed. By 1920, there were 15,000 residents, most of whom were connected to United Verde Copper. The company brought workers from all over the world, which would eventually be the reason for Jerome's unique diversity.
In 1953, because of economic struggles related to World War II, the United Verde Valley Mine closed, leading to a mass exodus from Jerome. Years later, travelers rediscovered Jerome, not for its rich ore resources but rather for its natural beauty.
Today, Jerome is known for its art galleries, family restaurants and distinctive gift shops.
Image courtesy of Robert Lucas