Jerome, Arizona: A Haunted Vacation

Hotel Bar in haunted Jerome AZ. Ron Elledge Photos.
Hotel Bar in Jerome, Arizona. Ron Elledge Photos.

Welcome to Haunted Jerome AZ!

By Ron Elledge

Welcome to haunted Jerome AZ
Welcome to Jerome, Arizona.

Welcome to Jerome Arizona. The archives call it Historic Jerome, Arizona.

However, people visiting from around the world speak of the town as picturesque, distinctly western, fun, friendly–and call it haunted Jerome AZ.

Jerome is located at an elevation of 5,200 feet on the side of Cleopatra Hill, the east rim of the Verde Valley in central Arizona. It occupies a prominent status on the original stretch of historic Highway 89A from Prescott to Jerome.

At the time, State Route 89A was defined as a state highway in 1927, only the portion from Prescott to Clarkdale was complete. No intersections, no choice of highways, one way in and one way out of this old historic mining town.

Today, there are two options for arriving in Jerome. From the east, it is a short but scenic climb up Cleopatra Hill from the town of Cottonwood.

As you make the climb from Clarkdale, you pass the botanical gardens and wind your way to Jerome. It’s difficult to keep your eyes on the road as you stare up at this haunting western town. Watch your back, pull over, and snap a picture.

View of Jerome from a hill. Haunted Jerome AZ
View of Jerome from a hill.

Arrival from the west is a dazzling drive over the Black Hills Mountain Pass from Prescott Valley. This dynamic 20-mile stretch known as The Old Jerome Highway is packed with hairpin switchbacks and scenic views, making it a most enjoyable ride.

Watch for animals on the road.

Jerome Arizona

The quaint mining town of Jerome is brimming with museums, gift shops, galleries, a host of activities, fine food, and drink. It was once known as the “wickedest town in the west” for its gambling, brothels and heavy drinking miners.

In 1903, The New York Sun ran the headline “THIS JEROME IS A BAD ONE. THE ARIZONA COPPER CAMP NOW THE WICKEDEST TOWN.”

Today, the town is a tourist hot spot, a place where bikers and aristocrats rub shoulders on the streets and in its bars and shops.

 

Jerome’s past is full of rich history and folklore. Birthed with the discovery of copper, gold, and silver in 1876, it has had more ups and downs than the S&P 500 chart. It was burned to the ground three times in the three years between 1897 and 1899.

Rising from the embers, it grew to a population of 15,000 then shriveling to less than 50 in the 1950s. Today’s population of 450 is a mixed group of humanity. You’ll find artists, musicians, sommeliers, bikers, innkeepers, proprietors, museum curators and more than a hermit or two. In 1967, Jerome was designated a National Historic District by the federal government.

Hotel Asylum Entrance
Hotel Asylum Entrance

A significant impact on the resurgence of Jerome has come from its folklore as a historic ghost town. Ghost tours are one of the major attractions to the area.

You can tour haunted mines, restaurants, and bars. My personal favorite is the Jerome Grand Hotel and Asylum Restaurant.

The Jerome Grand Hotel and Asylum Restaurant

When the Jerome Grand Hotel was originally constructed in 1926, it opened as a state of the art hospital. It derived its original name, United Verde Hospital, from its builder, the United Verde Copper Company.

The hospital was built to serve the employees of the mining company but was open to the public. Listed as one of the most modern hospitals in Arizona, many professed it to be the finest equipped hospital in the United States.

It was fitted with one of the original Otis elevators, the first self-service elevator, no operator required. This elevator is noteworthy in the hauntings of the Jerome Grand as it was a factor in the rather suspicious death of maintenance man Claud (Scotty) Harvey.

Scotty was found at the bottom of the elevator shaft with his head pinned beneath the car.

The coroner determined that the elevator could not have been the cause of his death and believed he was murdered and placed there for concealment.

A forerunner of cover-ups of our day, United Verde Copper Company was instrumental in preventing an autopsy and did not allow x-rays to be taken on poor old Scotty’s body.

The haunted Jerome AZ Grand Hotel.
The haunted Jerome Grand Hotel.

On your visit to the Grand Hotel today, you may meet Scotty standing near the Otis, loitering in the stairwell, or moving the elevator from floor to floor with no help from the living.

Hearing Claud’s Coughing

It’s still common for the front desk staff to report hearing Claud’s coughing and sneezing from the laundry room.

Sarah Moser wrote on September 14, 2015, “I work the graveyard shift front desk at the Grand and have had many of the experiences mentioned in articles, including regular visits with my sometimes grumpy but ever-present coworker, Claude (Scotty) Harvey.”

Staff being pushed in the hallways and guests having doors slammed shut by themselves are common occurrences in this hotel.

Reports of sounds of ghostly cries, phantom footsteps on the stairs, obnoxious odors and photographs developed with ghostly hazes and undetected orbs continue to pile up.

Have a Nice Day

When in Jerome, enjoy a delicious lunch on the patio of the Asylum. The view of the Verde Valley is spectacular. Then stroll through the web strewn bar area for your encounter with the hotel.

The famous Otis Elevator where the body was found. Foul play suspected.
The famous Otis Elevator where the body was found. Foul play suspected.

Keep your eyes open on your way to the Otis elevator, “termination point” for Mr. Harvey. You may pass by a tormented teenager parked in a dimly lit hallway, cowering in her wheelchair.

Or experience a four or a five-year-old child running down the hallway sometimes crying, sometimes laughing. It’s common for guests to report waking in the night with her standing at the foot of the bed while they’re sleeping.

If you’re fortunate, you may experience the smells of flowers, dust, cigar smoke, or whiskey that are often reported. Have the privilege of meeting some of the “living” legends of the hotel, or experience the sounds and sights of their presence.

If you stay the night, don’t be too annoyed by doors that open and close for no reason, electrical appliances turning off and on by themselves, or objects moving inexplicably by unseen forces.

Plan Your Trip

Although we always enjoy our time in the Jerome Grand Hotel, it is but one of the attractions that draw us back to this town.

We love the mining history, quaint gift shops, assorted cuisines, multiple wine tasting rooms, and meeting the unbelievable diversity of people.

You will find it to be a friendly and inviting place to visit. It’s best to leave plenty of time to walk the streets and rummage through the shops, and a ghost tour is always money well spent.

Local Tour operators

Ghost Town Tours
403 N. Clark St. Unit A-2
Mail: PO Box 501
Jerome, AZ 86331
928-634-6118
website

Tours of Jerome (Wine and Ghost Tours available)
110 Main St. Suite 1
Jerome, AZ 86331
928-639-4361
website

The following links will be helpful when planning your trip:

Jerome Chamber of Commerce

Lodging in Jerome

Dining in Jerome

Jerome Wine Tasting Rooms

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