The Douglas Mansion – The Jerome State Historic Park
Jerome State Historic Park reveals the story of the city of Jerome while preserving the historic Douglas Mansion. This former home is now a museum devoted to the history of the Jerome area and the Douglas family. The museum features exhibits of photographs, artifacts, and minerals in addition to a video presentation and a 3-D model of the town and its underground mines. There are more displays outside along with a picnic area offering a beautiful panoramic view of the Verde Valley.
Take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch at the park’s outdoor picnic area. The Douglas Mansion has been a landmark in Jerome since 1916, when James S. Douglas built it on the hill just above his Little Daisy Mine. The house featured a wine cellar, billiard room, marble shower, steam heat, and, much ahead of its time, a central vacuum system. Douglas was most proud of the fact that the house was constructed of adobe bricks that were made on site.
The Douglas Family
Douglas’ grandfather began the family’s involvement in copper mining in Canada. As an engineer and scientist, his father, James, traveled all over the world. Son James Stuart took to mining with gusto. It was in Nacozari, Mexico, that he acquired his nickname (“Rawhide”) inspired by use of rawhide to reduce roller wear on a cable car incline.
During development of the Little Daisy Mine in Jerome, his men cut into an extremely rich ore vein just in time for the soaring prices of World War I.
His eldest son, Lewis, chose politics instead of mining. In 1922, Lewis left Jerome for Phoenix, where he served in the Sixth Arizona Legislature. His long career took him to Washington, D.C., and finally to England in 1947, as Ambassador to the Court of St. James. James, the younger son, carried on the family tradition. His worldwide career in geology brought him home for work on the Little Daisy in its last years.
Museum and Exhibits
In the park theatre, watch a 28-minute video on the history of Jerome mining. Exhibits include a 3D model of the Jerome mines; there were about 100 miles of mining tunnels beneath the city. You may also enjoy the mineral exhibits and panoramic photographs from the early 1900s. On the grounds outside you can see a collection of 1900s ore cars, Dr. Douglas’s buggy inside the Carriage House, and more.
Jerome’s modern history began in 1876 when three prospectors staked claims on rich copper deposits. They sold out to a group that formed the United Verde Copper Company in 1883. The resultant mining camp of board and canvas shacks was named in honor of Eugene Jerome, the venture’s principal backer. Hopes for the enterprise ran high, but the costs of operating, especially for transportation, outstripped profits, and the company folded in less than two years. It took the vision and vast financial resources of a new owner, William A. Clark, to bring in a narrow gauge railroad and reduce freight costs. By the early 20th century, the United Verde was the largest producing copper mine in the Arizona Territory. Jerome was becoming a frame and brick town, and could boast two churches, an opera house, a school, and several civic buildings. In 1912, James S. Douglas purchased and began development of the Little Daisy Mine. By 1916, Jerome had two bonanza mines. Copper production peaked in 1929, but the Depression and low grade ore deposits reversed the fortunes of the town. The Little Daisy Mine shut down in 1938. Phelps Dodge took over the United Verde in 1935, but loss of profits brought the operation and Jerome’s mining days to an end in 1953
If you’re having a great time in Jerome, don’t forget to visit one of the four other state parks in the area.
Dead Horse Ranch State Park (10 miles)
Nestled in the cool climate of the town of Cottonwood, this park offers recreational opportunities such as camping, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, fishing, horseback riding and more. Cabins and access to the Verde River are also available.
Verde River Greenway State Natural Area (11 miles)
A 600-acre stretch of the Verde River that extends from Tuzigoot Bridge to Beasly Flats below Camp Verde, this conservation area provides excellent fishing, hiking, swimming, bird watching, and kayaking opportunities.
Fort Verde State Historic Park (25 miles)
Experience living history and life through the eyes of a frontier soldier. The fort was a base for General Crook’s U.S. Army scouts and soldiers in the 1870s and 1880s. From 1865 – 1891 Camp Lincoln, Camp Verde and Fort Verde were home to officers, doctors, families, enlisted men, and scouts.
Rockin’ River Ranch State Park (30 miles)
Situated between a leisurely stretch of the Verde River – one of the Southwest’s last free-flowing rivers – and open grasslands shaded by cottonwood trees, sits the site of Arizona’s newest state park.