Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Jerome Grand

We were camped in Camp Verde, AZ, which is near Sedona, which is near Jerome. Our third trip to the Sedona area meant a third stop in Jerome, a town with a mining history.

In 1876, a promising copper deposit was found, but the claim was too remote to be able to be mined and be profitable. In 1882, a group that included Eugene Murray Jerome bought the mine. The mining operations under a few different owners produced 2-1/2 billion pounds of copper, 50 million ounces of silver, and 1 million pounds of gold until they ceased in 1953.

This ore car at the town's entrance is a salute to the town's history, but it is the Jerome Grand Hotel, which overlooks the town (top center in the photo above) that is the focus of this visit.

It may not be apparent in the photo, but the town is built on a steep hill (see our March 23, '09 entry). And as if that isn't enough of a challenge in living, there are 88 miles of tunnels still under the town with some reaching almost one mile down.

The Grand Hotel (far right in the top of the photo above; photo below) is a 30,000 sq. ft., five-level building of poured in place, reinforced concrete, constructed on a 50-degree slope--an engineering marvel even by today's standards. It was built fire-proof and able to withstand the blasts of up to 260,000 pounds of dynamite set off by the mine and sometimes felt as far away as Camp Verde, a distance of 20 miles.

Our first visit to Jerome, about nine years ago, included a stay at the Grand. We arrived after dark and had to navigate the climb and hairpin turns with no idea of what lay ahead at any point. After many, many turns, we came to this sign indicating the Hotel was just two blocks ahead up this hill.

Imagine facing this hill--one lane, blind top, at night--for the first time. I did not drive up this hill during this visit, but walking up the hill even had my palms a bit moist--especially when I met a semi-trailer delivery truck heading toward me on its way down.

(The Spanish Mission style building, constructed in 1926, started out as the United Verde Hospital, so the sign (above) for the Asylum Restaurant in the Grand Hotel refers to one function of the former Hospital.)

The Hospital was closed in 1950 as the mine operation was being phased out. The building stood unused for the next 44 years until the rehabilitation plans started in 1994.

In that year, Larry Altherr and his brother, Bob, began turning it into the Jerome Grand Hotel. When it opened its doors in 1997, the hauntings began.

The Hotel had provided information about several of these ghosts, including an apparition of a lady, dressed in a fine white dress appearing in the stairwell next to the elevator.

So when a couple exited from the 1926 Otis Elevator into the lobby where we were standing and the gentleman looked at Kate and asked, "Are you an apparition?", we knew his reference.

So, I said, "Who are you talking to?", shook my head, and walked into the elevator. Kate had hurried past the puzzled questioner and was waiting in the elevator.

Walking into the lobby is like walking into the 1920's era. The first self-service Otis elevator was installed in Chicago in 1925, so this Otis, traveling at a speed of 50 feet per minute and taking 45 seconds to reach the top level, is the oldest original self service elevator in Arizona.

The next three photos show views from the Hotel. This photo shows much of the town and the main road that winds through the town of about 300 people.

I was very curious about the location of this home. I think I would have a hard time falling asleep at night.

Jerome State Historic Park (left), is the former Douglas Mansion. It was built in 1916 by James S. Douglas on the hill just above his Little Daisy (copper) Mine. It is closed for repairs at this time.

When walking down the road leading from the Grand Hotel, I passed this beautiful home. It looked very secure. I could live in this home without fearing that I could slide into the valley with even the slightest disturbance from Mother Nature.

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