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Come On Up If You're Near Jerome, Arizona

skywalk against canyonAmerica’s Most Vertical City, Largest Ghost Town in America or Town with A Billion Dollar View. How could one little town in Arizona earn all these sobriquets? If nothing else, Jerome has mastered the art of self-promotion. The location is pretty good -- 20 miles from Sedona, 60 miles from Flagstaff and 90 miles from Phoenix, which makes it a nice day trip for a lot of people.

Then you have the fact the town of Jerome sits atop Cleopatra Hill (5,200 feet above sea level) on a 30 degree incline. There used to be a huge copper mine here that produced an amazing 3 million pounds of copper per month. In the 1880’s, Jerome earned another nickname - The Wickedest Town in the West - when it was a wild mining camp with horny miners and enterprising prostitutes. In the 1920s there were 4,000 plus residents, but the mine veins petered out until the last mine closed in 1953. It really was a ghost town until the 60s whenskywalk visitors artists and hippies were attracted to the unique location. Today there is a full-time population of about 450 and most are artists, musicians, retailers, and innkeepers.

The copper may be gone, but there’s still gold in them there hills. Only now the gold is in the jewelry and craft stores that dot the hillside. There’s pottery of course, at Made in Jerome Pottery, antiques at Papillion, gemstones at Nelly Bly II jewelry at Aurum, Altai Leather Designs, the Jerome Winery, the Sage Post for coffee, books and cigars, and folk and tribal art from around the world at Mountain Caravan.

For art galleries, you have your choice of Pura Vida Gallery, Good Art Gallery, Jerome Gallery, and the Raku Gallery, to name a few.

The good people of Jerome know that a lot of shopping and gallery hopping will make you hungry and thirsty, so they have planned accordingly. The English Kitchen’s building may date back to 1899, but the food is very fresh. Asylum Restaurant, Red Rooster Cafe, Spirit Room House, Flatiron Cafe and Belgian Jennie’s Bordello skywalk looking downare also great places to eat and drink.

If you decide to linger for a spell in the Mile High Town, there is the venerable Connor Hotel, as well as the Jerome Grand Hotel, the Ghost City Inn, the Mile High Inn, The Cottage Inn, and The Miner’s Cottage.

It’s hard to explain the lure of Jerome -- it just might be the leftover hippy vibe from the 60s, but there is a calm in the clean air and a fantastic view of the Verde Valley. If you are in the Phoenix area, take the high road to Jerome and check it out for yourself.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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