Saturday, June 14, 2014

Douglas mansion and the mine that built it

A millionaire built his mansion on this mountain.

It took Mr. Douglas two years of unfruitful excavating to find anything worth mining, but it paid off in 1944 when deposits of copper, silver and gold were found.

Boom.  He was rich.
He needed a mansion on a mountaintop.
Today you can stand at the top of one of the mining shafts and look down into its 1900 feet depths.
That's a greater height than the empire state the sign shows.
The Audrey headframe, as it's called, lifted more than 320,000 tons of copper, 190 tons of silver, and 5.3 tons of gold during its 20 years of operation.
"Tons" of gold?
No wonder he had a mansion. 

There's no mining action today, just old machinery lying idle.
And there's no one living in the mansion either.  It was put on sale for only $40,000 dollars in the 1960s, but now it has been turned into a museum of the area's mining history.
No one is using the ahead-of-it's-time central vacuuming system.
No wealthy visitors are resting in the living room which, at 1400 square feet, is as big as some of the homes in Jerome.

No one needed what was left above ground once the millions of dollars were dug up from underground and carted away.

Powder box church

When I heard the name, I wondered by powder was associated with a church.  Phrases like "powder room" and "powder my nose" came to mind and didn't understand why the people of this congregation should be known for their powdering habits.

What I should have given more thought to was the two words together and the location.  Powder box.  Mining town.
Blasting powder boxes.
Got it.
The Mexican American mining families were not welcome in Jerome's Methodist church, so they built their own from discarded powder boxes, wire mesh and stucco.
Their ingenuity created a very unique and pretty building. 

The English Kitchen

When I saw the sign for "English Kitchen", I wasn't real thrilled with the prospect of English food for lunch.  But it was actually the smell of  Bobby D's BBQ that we followed in to the building. 

Turns out, the English Kitchen is a historical landmark as a building--the food, though, is much changed.

The building has a fascinating old west story of miners, opium, Chinese people and not one bite of English food.
The "English" of English Kitchen referred to the menu, which was in English (instead of Chinese).  It contained a full list of English foods, just as the name promised.  But what was served by the Chinese owner to every patron--no matter what they ordered--was the same chow mein.
Having been in some Asian kitchens with "English" menus, I can absolutely imagine that happening.

Land slide

In the 1930s, part of Jerome, Arizona, started sliding down hill.  The mining underground had made the surface unstable.
The jail was one of the buildings caught up in the slide.
It went downhill about 225 feet.  It still sits there today--a strange, partial building in a the middle of a parking area.
Maybe it's not original, but there's still a bunk in one of the cells.
A few other buildings, like the post office, also slid down hill.
Some of them left behind a facade of very different era.
It's almost like the Roman Forum...



The wickedest town in the west?  The fourth largest town in Arizona territory?

These are the things Jerome used to be known for.
Now it's known as a good day trip from Phoenix and the home of several art galleries.

It's hillside 1930s state is mostly preserved and it gets enough attention to save it from being a complete ghost town.