High above the verdant Verde Valley, Mingus Mountain stands as silent witness to likely thousands of years of spellbinding specters and shady shenanigans in and around the area below. Not the least of which is the historic town of Jerome.
Once known as the “Wickedest Town in the West” this small, northern Arizona mining community seemed to blow up, fill up and dry up with the speed of summer puddle in Tucson. However, not everybody was willing to leave when the mines shut down.
Just walking the streets of the extremely well-preserved ghost city, it’s easy to see, or rather feel why some have stayed and some have simply gravitated here. There’s a certain mystic energy in the area in general, which would explain the many writers and artists who have taken up residence. As far as for many of the other residents, well, you’ll see.
Nearly every mining town that ever boomed had its share (and then some) of lawlessness and Jerome was no different with its saloons and rowdy miners, shady businesses and bordellos. And as you might imagine, some of the most, (ahem) colorful characters were found in the bordellos. One such place is now known as the Mile High Inn.
Back in the 1920’s, the Victorian-style, eight room inn was owned by Madam Jennie Banters; touted as the richest woman in northern Arizona, who ran her business with a keen eye on customer satisfaction and enjoyed cooking beside the help in her own restaurant. But even the savviest business person is helpless to prevent the occasional altercation between personnel and patrons and when the altercations increased in frequency she was forced to relocate her business a few streets away to what was called “Husband’s Row”.
Nowadays, ghostly hangers-on roam the halls in flowing white gowns and dapper suits while furniture is rearranged amid the banging of armoire doors and utensils fly in the kitchen as small appliances turn on by themselves (Somebody, hide the electric knives!). Meanwhile a friendly cat may rub against your leg, but when you reach to touch her, Madam Jennie’s beloved feline disappears without a trace except for paw prints on the freshly made beds upstairs.
Of obvious note is how precariously these buildings of yore seem to cling to the side of the mountain. In fact only a handful have ever waivered, most notably the Jailhouse, which now rests intact but considerably further down and across the street from its original site.
But the most stunning engineering feat is the old five-story United Verde Hospital; made of concrete to withstand the powerful blasts generated at the mine and poured at a fifty degree angle at the top of Cleopatra Hill. It sits stoically about fifteen miles above the town of Jerome and after forty-four years of vacancy is now (I’m baffled by the wisdom of this…) known as The Grande Hotel! Perfectly restored and maintained in its original 1926 Spanish Mission-style splendor, the hotel is a high class, full-service enterprise, complete (or should I say rife?) with paranormal entities of hospital personnel in full dress who check on patients who aren’t in beds; which aren’t there either, and ailing patients who cough and moan and sneak into non-smoking rooms to light up.
Not surprisingly, staff at the main desk report frequent phone calls from vacant rooms and having to retrieve the statement of rules from the lobby floor to hang it back in its place on the wall behind the desk.
And of course there’s poor Claude “Scotty” Harvey, the maintenance guy who was killed when he was crushed by the elevator in the basement. Popular consensus is that Scotty was murdered, since the 1926 Otis Self-service Elevator was (and still is – gulp!) in perfect condition. Needless to say, Scotty is not happy and haunts around with a scowl on his face.
Naturally mineshafts aren’t immune to apparitions, given the amount of ordinary tragedies which can and do occur. One particularly gruesome incident was when a miner named Charlie was decapitated in a tragic accident down below. While his head was indeed recovered, his body never was and it is widely believed to be the specter of Charlie who wanders the abandoned shaft, looking for his head.
I absolutely loved this town, though I didn't know half of all this back then! The energy I spoke of is truly tangible and more than amazing. Happy Trails, everyone!
It would be creepy and yet exciting to see a ghost roaming a hall in a flowing white gown. I think I'd want to say "hi" and then run. LOLReplyDelete
Ha! Oddly enough, I think I'd be less concerned about Madam Jennie and her 'ladies' - and her cat - than the hospital spirits!Delete
Sounds like quite the place!ReplyDelete
Oh, it is! Although I recommend a day trip...;-)Delete
I am just now returning to blogging after taking a one week hiatus to host out of state house guests. Thank you very much for visiting SDMM in my absence and for leaving such a sweet comment for my guest host, JJ. We both appreciate your support!
It was exactly one year ago today that Mrs. Shady and I concluded our trip to the west coast and back to Florida.
If you have a minute or two you can step through my three post series and check out the pictures we took along the way, beginning with Part 1 here:
After our visit to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon we rode down the hill and through Sedona, Phoenix, Yuma, Mexicali and on to San Diego. As I look at the map I can see that we came close to Jerome after leaving Sedona. I very much enjoyed your history lesson and can feel the mystic energy of the town. I took part in many "shady shenanigans" in my day and clearly that mining community saw its share. I love places that are believed inhabited by ghosts and would love to visit Jerome on our next trip out west!
Oh, you're more than welcome. That post was as powerful as it was empowering!
Sounds and looks like you guys had a terrific trip! Sedona is included in a handful of Arizona places where spiritual energy is quite tangible, thus the eclectic year-round residents I guess. I do believe you'd enjoy Jerome! I got a kick out of peering into dingy old windows and sneaking into the abandoned schoolhouse!
Jerome sounds like a fascinating place. I remember fantasizing about ghost towns as a kid, but I've never been to one. Meeting headless Charlie would be so frightening!ReplyDelete
Hi Debbie! We certainly have our share of ghost towns out here, with plenty of ghosts to go around! Interestingly, old-timers are reluctant to speak of them; preferring to "leave em' where they be" - especially Charlie!Delete
The thought of those electric knives operating by by themselves...yikes! Jerome sounds like an interesting place, to say the least. I don't know if I could deal with a cat that disappears when you try to pet her, but sounds fascinating. LOL@ Chrys wanting to say "hi." Um...no, thanks, lol!ReplyDelete
Hi Quanie! Ha! You wouldn't say hi? I'd even answer the call from a vacant room - just to perhaps hear who's calling! I agree about the cat, but find the concept of a ghost cat incredibly interesting!Delete
Sounds like the hotel would be an interesting place to spend the night! Wonder what the ghosts think of all the newcomers.ReplyDelete
Intriguing point you bring up - I bet the ghosts either find the living bothersome or of possible use in helping them get to their ultimate destination. Not sure which I'd rather be, though I would enjoy observing them if they'd allow me to :-)