When I first set eyes on Jerome, glittering on a distant hillside, a vision flashed through me and I knew I would live there one day. Three months later I was.
It was as if I was encountering a place I dreamed up long ago and had forgotten. The feeling of familiarity was so strong I rifled through my memory wondering if I could have possibly passed through the little town on a previous road trip. But Jerome is not a place you forget.
Like most area visitors, I took a day trip from Flagstaff down windy, scenic Oak Creek Canyon to check out the former boom town that had dwindled into a ghost town before being reinvigorated into the funky artist enclave it is today.
Four miles of hairpin turns climb up to Jerome, where it sits at a mile high. Its rickety buildings and multi-story wooden porches cling to the slopes of Cleopatra Hill, while several grand structures solidly hold court with plenty of room to breathe. Many say Jerome, with its colorful buildings stacked precariously on the hillside, is reminiscent of a Mediterranean hill town. Here, the desert is our ever-changing sea.
Jerome’s allure goes beyond its striking views and crooked, cobblestoned charm. People also come for a rich history as deep as its fabled billion-dollar copper mines. Art lovers browse the many galleries and boutiques, and oenophiles tasting-room hop to sample the region’s celebrated wines.
Maybe you’ll witness an impromptu concert on “the steps,” a regular gathering place for locals, or maybe you’ll happen to be in Jerome on the day of our town photo or pass by one of our community potlucks in the park. We hang on, just like our homes to the hillside, because having lived here, where else would we choose to go? As an inveterate wanderer of the West, believe me I have tried to find it. Only recently, after following my restless spirit to Montana, did I look over my shoulder and accept that, for me, all roads lead back to Jerome.