Mon, Feb. 17

Verde Heritage 1916: JEROME; New Life Given to the Great Mining Camp

"When the United Verde Extension struck ore it hit with a resounding blow that was heard all over the mining world. The people who inhabit every quarter of the globe heard it. It started something."

"It started a mad rush to one of the greatest copper producing camps in the west. It boomed Jerome."

"It brought men who had mined in South America, Montana, Nevada, California --- everywhere. It brought investors and speculators, expert mining engineers and promoters, and it brought the get-rich-quick Wallingfords. And each of these it brought contributed that certain something that is termed 'atmosphere,' and so Jerome today is a live, eager, enthusiastic, stirring camp."

"What if the past of Jerome is the story of a one-mine camp void of color, void of romance? The real history of Jerome is in the making."

"The first chapter relates to the locating of a fraction of the Little Daisy claim by Mining Engineer Fisher, and considerable attention is given to this discovery, which is directly responsible for the finding of the 'greatest ore body in the world.' This chapter also deals with the old timers who have awakened, taken a new lease on life and a chance for wealth by reorganizing companies formed years ago. It also talks of the 'newcomers,' the men who own mines and have mines to sell, or who have only a stock interest in the properties situated on the famous Verde north fault."

"And the old prospector and the new, the man who offers the tip and the man who accepts it, the traveling salesman, the boom has made a well known character about town, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, all meet at the Connor Hotel every afternoon to discuss the only matter of the moment, mines, near mines and maybe mines."

"And the youth of the camp is apparent when busses drive up always half an hour late. There's a dash for the street and the populace lines up and the new arrival is submitted to the 'once over.' It's not rude to stare. There is nothing impertinent in the cool, calculating glance. It is merely appraising. The look is tinged with amusement when the lobby is reached and the clerk cuts the tourist off with a terse, 'We're a full house.' Every other hotel hangs out the same signal."

"In this old good natured throng is sure to be a chap who has 2 or 3 or 4 beds in his room, and he kindly offers to house the stranger."

"The congestion started last spring. A modern apartment house would appear to solve the problem, but this is not the case, for where is there ground available? There is no room to expand. Every bit of space is being used for mining purposes, and underneath the very homes built and owned by the United Verde Copper Company, extensive mining operations are being conducted. This company proposes to shortly erect a new hospital and new residences for it chief surgeon, but those not connected with the company, who wish to acquire realty holdings must invest in the other part of town, mainly the 'hog back.'"

"The company's houses are frame cottages that cling to nooks and corners of the mountains of ore. It all depends on the view point whether the residence is one storied or two, and generally it is both, that the roof might cover it symmetrically. Over the trails the grocery boy comes on horseback to deliver the household goods. Even the horse steps gingerly, for it seems to know that only a few feet of the ground 'belongs' and that all ore rights are reserved. How the rider knows where to go is a mystery, for there is no means of knowing. He must merely wind in and out and trust to his luck. There may be streets and avenues, but if there are the names are kept a dark secret. A well known broker and pioneer of Jerome remarked recently that he had lived on Magnolia avenue for 2 years before he was aware of the fact."

"The residents of Magnolia avenue and the residents of the hog-back, and any person who chances to be in town and who looks respectable, all belong to the Jerome social set --- to the credit of Jerome. It is a democratic camp, and its democracy extends beyond its manner of doing business. If there's a dance in town everybody's invited, and everybody will be there, and the wife of the superintendent or the chief engineer will dance with the diamond driller or the clerk just as readily as she dances with the resident physician. The dances are held under the auspices of fraternal organizations in a public hall, where also a series of features and musical courses are given during the year."

"Down town a motion picture theater attracts big audiences, but a favorite rendezvous for the man about town is 'the cigar store.' He's there in the morning before he goes over the hills, and he's there in the evening when he returns, unless he happens to be at the Connor."

"At any rate he will dine at the hotel. He will glance over the menu and will not find the steak he longs for listed there. Takes too long. The management hasn't time to bother with steaks and chops and things, for it's all it can do to serve the long line in waiting. The main dining room is the old card room where big stakes were won and lost in the days of gaming. It is entered through the bar room where small booths have been arranged. There is no popping of corks, but the setting is the same and the same spirit is there, but a bit more subdued."

"Swinging doors prevail on Main street establishments. But the saloons have been changed to pool halls and shops, and there are no signs of 'store to rent.' Since prohibition stalked into camp the families are better clothed and better fed."

"Dan Shea declares it is the very best thing that ever happened to Jerome. As he shoos away an imaginary fly he says, 'Liquor is all right to sell but it's not worth a dam to drink.'"

"There are 4 brothers Shea --- Dan, Tim, Matt and Denny. They are all business men and mine owners, of course, men who have made enviable reputations for their honesty. Rugged pioneers who are far sighted enough to quietly hold their properties until the psychological moment when it was a small matter to sell stock in Jerome to develop a legitimate prospect."

"There's a big store owned and managed by one of the brothers, and then there is Matt Shea's that lends a bit of vivid coloring to the camp."

"Three months ago Mall Shea's place was opened in Jerome. A big hall where soft drinks are dispensed from a bar that speaks of other days, tables around which miners gather for an exciting game of pitch or solo, or where on a cold night they hug the fire and swap stories, not of the past, but of today --- it is small wonder that Shea's has taken the name that once belonged to a saloon in the days gone by --- The Bucket of Blood."

"Shea's is always crowded. Along until half past one in the morning when it closes, the men who work underground in the big mines or who are prospecting in the hills, make it their headquarters. Occasionally will be found one or more of these men who have indulged a bit too freely in 'personal use,' and now and then a bitter dispute will arise that must need be settled by the officers of the law. The barkeeper who drinks with his guests says, 'And if you want to see real trouble, wear a yellow tie into Shea's on St. Patrick's Day; sure it's as much as your life is worth.'"

"Many of these men who pass there evenings there live at the Sullivan Annex. The picture from the Main street is of an ordinary hotel or rooming house, but leading from the small office in the lobby of the hotel proper is a passageway that connects with the back porch. Here is the home of the miner, the prospector who has drifted in from another camp, or merely the man glad of a place to rest. A porch lined with beds, 35 of them, and as close together as cots can be placed. The average man comes with only a roll of blankets, and others with still less, and he should worry if his shaving water isn't the correct temperature in the morning. Last week these cots did double service. They were rented to the men who did the 'grave yard' shift, and also to those who worked by day. At present an extension is being built, and over the new and old porch will be constructed still another. It is to be a double decker that will probably be able to accommodate 150 men."

"It was not always that the citizens of Jerome slept is safety. Three times the camp suffered severe losses from fire, there being practically no way to quell the flames when the breezes swept the hill's side." ...

"There are needed improvements that will come with time. The people are speaking of a sewer system and street improvements, and one of these days when the excitement dies down they will get together to advance the civic betterment movement."

(Arizona Republican; Phoenix; December 15, 1916; Mining Section; page 3.)

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