Thursday, April 26, 2007

Celebrating the History of Jerome

[Source: Barbara Yost, Arizona Republic] -- As a boy, Lewis "Pete" Douglas loved to visit his grandfather, "Rawhide Jimmy" Douglas, at his sprawling mansion in Jerome. Grandpa would take the boy deep into the family copper mine, the United Verde Extension - which the boy did not love. "It scared me a lot," said Douglas, now 82 and working in oil and gas exploration in Denver. The Douglas family is as much a part of Arizona history as the mines around Jerome and their namesake Douglas, in southeastern Arizona. The mines once netted millions of dollars from copper, silver and gold. Although James Douglas was a wealthy man who built Jerome's magnificent Douglas Mansion (pictured), he "was most proud of being a rancher and an Arizonan," his grandson said.

The mansion, now open as Jerome State Historic Park, is headquarters Saturday for festivities marking the 50th anniversary of Arizona State Parks and celebrating the tough little town on Cleopatra Hill. Saturday's all-day program, Mining, Minerals and Mucking, is a tribute to Jerome's mining past, with a schedule of storytellers, exhibits, demonstrations and music. The grand re-opening of the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum, which includes a new mining tunnel and mock-up of an old brothel, also happens Saturday. It's a lot of excitement for a town with a population of about 500. Considerably more people - 15,000 - populated Jerome during the mining boom in the first half of the 20th century. But thanks to tourists captivated by panoramic views of the Verde Valley, Jerome is thriving. "Jerome still retains a lot of that late-1800s and early-1900s ambience," said Nora Graf, park ranger with the Arizona State Parks in Jerome.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Arizona State Parks.]