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Friday, October 23, 2015

Spirits Check In to Jerome Grand Hotel - for Eternity


Up in the Black Hills of Arizona, the Jerome Grand Hotel stands on Cleopatra Hill, hosting souls who have checked-in for Eternity. Their stories have been written in time.

Originally United Verde Hospital, built 1927, it was then described as the most modern Hospital in the West. An engineering miracle - fire proof, earthquake proof, and able to withstand shock waves of dynamite from mines, it has survived two centuries. Planned to be a place of healing and rest for families and workers of the mining camp below, over time it became a place of haunting. Apparently, it wasn't ghost proof.

Camp was established in 1883, and the Town officially incorporated March 8, 1889. Named after Eugene Murray Jerome, of New York, the investor financed mining plans here and got the town rocking and rolling. United Verde Mine was born, began operations, and produced over 1 billion in ore, over 70 years. 

Anchored 5000 feet above sea level, the Hospital above town had windows in every direction, offering breathtaking views of the entire Valley. At night, lights from the windows were like glowing eyes a mile high. As if watching the gold, silver and copper fever below. 

Lured by visions of wealth and work provided by treasures of the Earth, people went to Jerome. They came from places far away, as if drifting into town under a spell, cast by the supernatural aura of Jerome calling them. Word spread quickly beyond Verde Valley, and Jerome soon incarnated into "the wickedest town in the West" as printed in the New York Sun, 1903. 

Back alley brothels sprang up, and secret underground opium dens operated, making fortunes for outlaws in the vice trade, fueled by legit fast money from copper commerce. A web of tunnels were built under the city, people creeping like spiders in the dark, carrying out nocturnal business activities.

Miners went on strike in 1917, bringing Jerome news out of the Mountains and into the spotlight, again. 60 members of the Industrial Workers of the World Union were forced out of town by old fashioned justice; guns pointed at them, prodded to get on a cattle train, and sent away, warned to never return. 

A year later in 1918, the Spanish Flu epidemic hit Jerome. United Verde Hospital's 30, 000 square feet and all five floors, were over filled with patients. Doctors set up three emergency hospitals in local school buildings. Nurses often worked 18 hour shifts, to exhaustion. Some people were alive and well in the morning, and dropped dead by dusk. Varying reports indicate 600-900 deaths from the Flu. The town Cemetery was filled with "1918" headstones. 

Most patients at United Verde Hospital suffered from tuberculosis or black lung, the final price they paid from working in the mines. Deaths were logged at least once a day. Rumor has it the Hospital also functioned as the local Sanitarium, to calm demons of the mind. There was a designated area of "Death Rooms," where people were sent to die, and rest in peace. Since the 1900's, the living speak of the deceased that still wander. 

United Verde Hospital operated from 1927-1950. 

By 1953, there was nothing left to mine, United Verde Copper Company closed, and people left Jerome. What was once a thriving, independent firecracker town of 15, 000, became a Ghost Town of 100 residents. 

In the wake of the end of the mining era, and perhaps melancholy over what once was, the spirit of Jerome was being written, immortalized in literature. "Ballad of a Laughing Mountain" 1953, was penned by Richard Snodgrass and Art Clark. The documentary style book told the story of Jerome, from beginning to end, with photographic scenes of moments in time. Next, Herbert V. Young, (former executive at United Verde Copper Company) wrote "Ghosts of Cleopatra Hill: Men and Legends of Old Jerome" 1964. This was his 43 year personal account, of how a remote place in the desert was fueled by an enduring spirit, wild west drama, and the rags to riches success story of the town. Young's second book, "They Came to Jerome" 1972, a dynamic tribute to the people who made Jerome home, is proclaimed as the most comprehensive story of Jerome, ever written. 

United Verde Hospital shut its doors, remaining abandoned for 44 years. People in the valley below reported seeing lights flicker from the empty building with no electricity. Those who entered and explored the vacant Hospital say it is not empty. Restless spirits roamed, filled with souls trapped in time, patients of the past. Alive with haunted history, sounds of yesterday were heard; faint voices screaming, footsteps, eerie noises from the elevator shaft echoed, and moving dark shadows were seen. 

Most Ghost Towns crumble into dust of the past and fade away. However, Jerome was revived in the 1960's. It's mysterious allure and wild vibe attracted artists, writers, and crafters, who reincarnated the town, to a travel haven. This time, instead of coming for copper, people journeyed here in search of culture. Spellbinding a new generation, Jerome is now alive with galleries, shops, eateries, saloons, and events. Jerome became a National Historic Landmark on April 19, 1967, and "That the Past may Live" became the towns signature statement. This testament honoring the town's incredible never dying spirit, is truly inspiring. 

Nicknamed Spook City, celebrating a yearly Spook Festival with historical Ghost Walks and other assorted spectral fun every October, Jerome is the most unique, relaxing, and intriguing destination to visit. 

In 1994, the Hospital building, bought by the Altherr family, was resurrected as The Jerome Grand Hotel. Dusty but well preserved, it was lovingly restored, down to the original Nurse call lights in the halls which remain. The Hospital Lobby is currently the Asylum Restaurant, serving fantastic food and spirits.

Apparently, true to the tales, ghosts came with the property. Spirits checked in, and never checked out. Even today, stories continue to be told about time traveling ghosts illuminating their images of the past with the present spirits of travelers. Tourists and employees have reported hearing coughs, wheezing, moans and groans from dark empty rooms. A Nurse in white has been seen roaming the hallways, and a little boy runs into a room then vanishes. A bearded man has been seen in the basement near the boiler room, and a creepy figure lurks on the stairs near the Lobby. Guests of the Hotel can go on Ghost Hunts at the property after dark, if they dare. 

The legend lives on today, a new chapter written in time, hosted by Spooks and Spirits of The Jerome Grand Hotel.

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