Sat, Feb. 22

Jerome State Historic Park to re-open Oct. 14

The Jerome State Historic Park Grand Re-opening is scheduled for Oct. 14 at noon with celebrations on the grounds of the stunning Douglas Mansion overlooking the vast Verde Valley.

The town, located on Cleopatra Hill sits at 5,200 feet above sea level and covers one of Arizona's largest copper mines.

In the shadow of the Mingus and Woodchute Mountains, Jerome had been a boisterous copper mining town in 1876 with a population of 15,000 at the peak of the copper boom. But mining ceased in 1953 and on 50 people stayed in the small berg on the side of the mountain. A revitalization of the town in the 1960s with an artist enclave and the Jerome State Historic Park, attracted tourists who number almost 2 million and come from around the world. Now the town is a paradise for visitors and photographers with sweeping valley views and historic mining homes and businesses.

When Jerome State Park had to close in 2009 due to crumbling adobe walls and roof as well as sweeps from the State Parks operational budget, the community of 500 residents rallied and looked for alternatives for funding the operation of the park.

"The story of the copper mines in Arizona is fascinating to tourists and especially how $800 million in copper was taken from the mountain beneath this town," said Mayor Jay Kinsella. "We are going to find every way possible to keep this park open and generating tourism for our economy."

After the park closed, the Douglas family stepped forward with $15,000 to help repair and stabilize the building. Then the Arizona State Parks board allocated enough Heritage Fund grant monies to rebuild the roof, repair the adobe walls, stabilize the chimneys and paint the outside the original tan color. At the same time, Yavapai County was reviewing funding mechanisms for the operation of the park if it could be re-opened in the future.

This summer the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors allocated $30,000 to re-open the park. "Yavapai County is committed to keeping our State Parks open as they attract more than 500,000 tourists while driving millions of dollars into the small town economies. Jerome State Park alone attracts 60,000 visitors and for a small town, that is a significant boost to their economy," said Renée Bahl, Executive Director of the State Parks. "Yavapai County understands that their businesses thrive on the 2.3 million visitors that move through the State Parks system each year."

The park will be open five days a week with a fee of $5 per adult and $2 for children, however on October 14, the park entrance fees will be waived for the celebration and Park Mansion tours that day.

Volunteer spirit and enthusiasm are needed at Jerome State Historic Park and the park will be looking for individuals or groups who care about the preservation and interpretation of historical places. If you are a history buff and just love to talk with people, you can assist by interpreting the history of the Douglas family, miners/mining, and the geology of the region, please sign up as a volunteer on the Arizona State Parks website, or Facebook/Twitter AZStateParks.

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