VERDE HERITAGE 1904: Trip to Jerome and Camp Verde, Part 1.
A traveler's impressions of the scenery, mines, smelter, and Town of Jerome.
"We left Prescott at 11 a.m., October 20, 1904, arrived at Jerome Junction an hour later where we changed cars, taking the United Verde & Pacific Railway to Jerome. The train was almost ready to start, but one of the passengers had a desire to refresh the inner man, and the conductor was kind enough to 'wait while he ate,' and judging from the length of time he took for his repast, he must have had a good dinner and a very empty stomach. On our return we took dinner at the hotel and then fully realized why our fellow passenger lingered so long at the festive board."
"In due time our fellow passenger with a satisfied expression made his appearance. The hotel man rushed out and yelled 'let-er-go.' We all scrambled aboard and away we went. For the first few miles the road was smooth and straight, the scenery tame, then we began to climb. How the little engine did puff and snort, up and down, around and around the mountains like a serpent. On one side the high rugged mountains, on the other the deep yawning canyon; in the distance the cliffs, or walls of the canyon chiseled into picturesque shapes by old Father Time, painted in the most delicate tints by the hand of Mother Nature, reminded one of ruins of once populous and beautiful cities."
"I have traveled extensively through this country and in countries of the Old World, have seen many fine works of engineering, but none of that surpasses or equals the fine engineering work on the United Verde & Pacific Railway from Jerome Junction to Jerome, a distance of 26 miles. From the time the train struck the mountains till it reached Jerome I don't believe it had a chance once to straighten itself full length, for every time I looked out of the window, and that was almost constantly, the engine, and often one or two cars were in view then would disappear from my view. I would look out the opposite window and see it disappearing around a curve on the other side, then back again and so on until we reached Jerome. This road certainly is the 'crookedest, snakiest, shakyest' road I ever traveled."
"We have read of and seen beautiful cities on a hill --- Jerome is on a hill or hills, but the adjective 'beautiful' cannot be appropriately applied to this city on a hill, for of all dusty, dirty, ragged and jagged places, Jerome takes the cake. It made me dizzy to lookup at the houses on the steep mountain side. In some places just large enough to set the little house in --- and then many steps to reach the little home. I felt as if I had got on some 'time machine' and traveled back five centuries."
"The depot is almost half a mile from the business part of the town, and that half mile is down grade --- very down grade --- so much so that we found it difficult to keep our seats in the bus. We had the feeling we were taking a toboggan slide."
"We stopped at the Connor Hotel. The genial and obliging clerk, Mr. Jim Sweeny, gave us comfortable, pleasant rooms, After settling in our rooms, we started out to see the town and to complete arrangements for the rest of our trip."
"First we visited the drug store (the drug store people are supposed to know everything worth knowing) and met one of the firm, Mr. Tarr, a very affable and obliging gentlemen. Mr. Tarr had taken the trip we anticipated, and was prepared to give us the information we desired."
"We called at Dr. Coleman's office, had a pleasant chat with the doctor, who is a very popular and busy man. The doctor advised us to take a private rig with a driver in preference to the mail or stage."
"We called at the livery, found a team and driver would cost us something less than a trip to the Grand Canyon (I visited the Grand Canyon a few weeks ago) or the Holy Lands. Not being related to the great 'Copper King' Senator Clark, and not possessing a very fat pocket book, we decided to take the stage to Camp Verde and trust to getting a rig there to visit the other places."
"Having completed our arrangements for the next day, we looked around for an eating place, and found a nice clean dining hall kept by Mrs. Bell, who was very courteous and obliging. The dinner was well cooked and nicely served."
"We retired about 10 p.m. anticipating a good night's rest. But alas! Alas! A short nap then Bedlam broke loose. [Change of shift at the United Verde Copper Company.] For a few seconds I imagined I was in Chicago --- saloons in full blast, the people were tramping, talking and laughing loudly, vehicles rattling and this commotion was kept up most of the night."
"The next morning early we visited the dump of the mine in search of specimens. The ore was piled up in quadrangular shape on logs and brush which was set on fire. We learned this was done to cleanse the ore of sulphur and arsenic before putting it through the smelter. We stood gazing at the fiery mass, enjoying the gentle breeze which wafted the brimstone smoke far away 'o're hill and dale.' Our reverie was suddenly broken by the gentle breeze changing its mind and blowing the smoke right into our faces almost strangling us. Coughing and sneezing, we beat a hasty retreat, climbing a steep embankment to get away from the stifling smoke. The bottomless pit filled with fire and brimstone pictured itself on our minds, and with one accord we all immediately resolved to lead a better life hereafter."
"We were informed by the strenuous foreman, Mr. Dave Evans, that the smelter was shut down for repairs but would be working when we returned, then he would take pleasure in showing us around."
"While waiting for the mail stage (leaves Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for Camp Verde,) we had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with Captain John Boyd, a genial, well informed young mining man of 82 years of age. The captain gave us some valuable information concerning early mining in Arizona. Captain Boyd said, 'the Equator mine was located in 1876, more than 28 years ago by myself and others. In 1876 we ... located prospects now known as the United Verde mines. We located the Hermit, North and South Venture, [etc, and further south the] Cliff, Oak, and Nathan Allen. We put up an assay office at G. W. Kell's ranch. Dr. [O'Dougherty] was the assayer, John D. Boyd, president, D. O'Dougherty, secretary, and G. W. Kell, recorder. These claims were put on record in Prescott. Six months after, we went to Tonto Basin and located the first mines there.'" ...
Later, "'Prof. Douglas did not think the claims worth locating, but G. A. Treadwell and W. Logan got Prof. Thomas, Mr. Jerome, of New York, and Gov. Tritle, of Arizona, interested and named the mines [the United Verde]. Senator Clark [leased, then] purchased the mines. They took them all except Cliff, Oak, and Nathan Allen and paid us $10,000.'"
"' We did assessment work on the Equator to 1885, then abandoned it. It was re-located by Jordan Bros., W. S. Head and others. They bonded it to W. A. Clark of the Iron King. After some time again re-located by Wm. Furgeson, of Prescott. He took in John Duke and called it the Copper Chief. I had kept up assessment work for nine years on these claims, traveling 100 miles every year to do my assessment work, making a total of nearly 1,000 miles.'"
[After a long court battle, the matter of over-lapping mineral claims west of Cottonwood was settled. Senator William A. Clark, primary owner of the United Verde Copper Company at Jerome, built a tramway and smelter where the town of Macdonald began to grow . The 250 ton Equator smelter began operations March 18, 1904, and there were 180 men on the payroll by April 30, 1904.]
"About 10:30 the next morning we started for Camp Verde. Down grade, down, down, down, through dust, over stones, ruts and washouts; finally we reached real terra firma again, drew a long breath and felt thankful we were still in the flesh."
"On we went through valleys, over mountains, in front of us the Black Hills, the name is very appropriate for the hills certainly are black, with no signs of life. Behind, the black smoke of Jerome and other mines. Every few miles there would burst upon our vision a bunch or a long line of green trees, an indication of water --- an oasis in the desert --- nestling among the trees, a little home, perhaps a store and post office [as at Cottonwood and Cornville]. A few ranchers waiting for their mail gave us a friendly gaze."
"The Verde Valley is well watered by the Verde River, Oak and Beaver creeks. The river is very serpentine in its course. We forded it a number of times, in some places quite deep --- up to the hub of the wagon wheels. About 12 miles from Jerome we visited some ancient Aztec ruins on Oak Creek."
"The stage driver, Mr. Price, very kindly drove out of his way to show us these ruins; old adobe walls. We took some excellent Kodak views of these and other cliff dwellers' ruins. We crawled around on all fours to the cliff dweller's caves located high above Oak Creek. Some of the rooms were quite spacious, the doors about three or four feet high, showing that the cliff dwellers must have been people of small stature."
"As we peered into these caves or dwelling places, then down into the sparkling stream so far beneath us --- what questions filled our brains; who were the cliff dwellers, when did they live here, when and where did they go, and why did they go? These questions remain unanswered. All was silent as a tomb. If these rocks could only speak, what tales they could tell."
(Weekly Arizona Journal-Miner; Prescott; by Dr. J. Waterloo Dinsdale; November 16, 1904; page 5.)