Phoenix with Kids blogger Jana Tingom and I, with our children, decided to do a trip up to Cottonwood and Jerome and picked a few fun spots to hit. We decided to check out Gold King Mine Museum and Ghost Town as one of our spots.
The Gold King Mine is actually located in Haynes, which is one mile north of Jerome, but since Haynes is only home to 14 people, we will also give a little history of Jerome too!
Jerome is one of the spots in the state I hadn’t visited, but I had heard a lot about. I was slightly glad my husband didn’t drive with us on our trip (which is something I would never say) but he doesn’t like windy roads with cliffs, and the road from Cottonwood to Jerome had that! Whoa BABY! I would NOT want to drive that in the dark. Just the drive is enough to be creepy.
A little history about Jerome-Jerome was founded in 1876 and was once the fourth largest city in Arizona (in the 1920s) because of Copper mining. At it’s peak, it produced around 3 million pounds of copper per month. Can you name the other C’s of Arizona?
Jerome was known as one of the wickedest cities in the west because of the “entertainment” that was provided in the early 1900s. But soon, a police force and fire department were established as well as people who brought opera, school, pools and church as well.
In 1901, Haynes Copper Company looked for Copper a mile North of Jerome (where the town “Haynes” came from) but instead found gold. In 1901 there were 301 people. By 1914 there were only 14 people and by the 1960s Haynes was sold and turned into a Ghost town.
In 1953, the Phelps Dodge mine in Jerome closed, and the town dwindled to between 50-100 people. Now, Jerome is the largest ghost town in America and has a population of approximately 450 people.
Basics About Getting there
The paved road ended and we went onto a dirt road that was a bit narrow. My minivan handled it just fine but it could be a little rough in bad weather. Just be wary!
My kids were eager to get on the way! The entrance to the Ghost Town is through the gift shop. There were loose chickens walking around the parking lot, which was also dirt. The bathrooms were through the entry way and were very clean. I do believe some of the workers for the ghost town lived on site as there were no tresspassing signs on one of the homes.
The gift shop had all the normal types of gift shop finds. Signs, shirts, stuffed animals-etc. My kids walked around but we didn’t purchase anything. They had no problem with us bringing our own drinks in. In order to exit you also had to walk through the gift shop.
Many of the homes were viewable from afar but not up close. They had barbed wire around the base of the hill that they were on, so be very careful where you step.
In some of the buildings there were things that were able to be manipulated-like this one with the “laundry”. But be careful, that iron weight about twenty pounds. I had one in my house growing up that was my great grandparents, so I was familiar with what it was. Our kids had a lot of questions about these things! This was a good history lesson.
And then, the cars…I really had mixed feelings about the cars. They were everywhere. Yes, it did have it in the description of the place. I wouldn’t call it a gear heads paradise. I jokingly remarked “I hope everyone has their tetanus shots up to date”. Many of the cars weren’t in good condition. There were some with broken windows. Many with broken parts. Honestly, it felt like a scrap yard for whatever broken cars they could bring to this place and dump here. They weren’t timely to the era of the ghost town for the most part-so I wasn’t sure how this all fit in.
More cars, spare parts and the house on the hill that had barbed wire around it.
There was an old blacksmith’s shop that had some fun little toys (that weren’t actually from the time) but were fun for the kids. There were a few bears that had been carved out of wood and this old tricycle that Munchie is on that was huge! The kids explored in here, but there wasn’t anything really “blacksmith” about it, other than a storage area for wood.
The old mine shaft was closed up, but made for an interesting, dark hallway to explore for the kids!
An area to do gold panning. You have to pay extra for this. The water was pretty nasty so I told my kids to stay away. I know it had probably not been busy there at all. I felt like they should have just drained the tanks.
This was a look at their wood mill, which looked really amazing and new. I wished that this would have been a highlight of the tour and maybe there had been a sign about what this was and what it did. It looked like a lot of people had put a lot of effort into this. I am guessing it is their mill from their website (and could be wrong!)
They also had a “petting zoo” , and I use that term very loosely. There were chickens running around loose, a pig and a few goats. Maybe there were some ducks somewhere, because they advertised that they had “organic duck and chicken eggs” for sale. The chickens nipped at one of my kids, so I’m not sure how pet able they really were. I am also very wary about having my kids pet any animals if the owner isn’t around. Also, I would classify the eggs as more “wild” than organic. I don’t know what they are being fed, but given the interesting living accommodations, it seems easier to classify the chickens as wild. Living amongst hundreds of old, rusty cars hardly seems like an organic situation. Maybe we can go with Cage Free.
If you are headed up to Jerome and want to check Gold King Mine Ghost Town out, I wouldn’t put this off your list, but it definitely wasn’t a highlight of our trip. It isn’t a place for young kids. It has beautiful scenery from the top of the hill, but it is not a destination.
1000 Perkinsville Rd
If you like this location, you may like Pioneer Living History Museum