The town of Jerome, AZ, sits between Flagstaff and Prescott in the Black Hills of Yavapai County, and its strange history draws visitors year after year. Founded in 1876, Jerome was a mining town that quickly flourished when copper, gold, and silver were all found in the area. The town boasted a number of successful restaurants, gambling halls, and saloons, as well as an active red light district. In its heyday, Jerome had 15,000 residents, but by the 1950s, less than 200 people called Jerome home. Living residents, anyway.
Jerome is said to be the most haunted town in the state of Arizona, and perhaps even the United States. Things to do in Jerome include visiting a hospital-turned-hotel, where patients and staff allegedly still roam the halls. You can also visit the many saloons and bordellos that saw high levels of mischief and mayhem. There's even a phantom cat who's always happy to spend the night with visitors in its former home.
The history of Jerome, AZ, is complicated and a little murky, but these are some of the best known stories of hauntings and paranormal phenomena that the city has to offer.
The Jerome Grand Hotel Might Have Thousands Of Ghosts Roaming Its Halls
Long before it became a paranormal tourist destination, the Jerome Grand Hotel was the United Verde Hospital. From 1927 to 1950, it's estimated that nearly 9,000 people expired there, often during surgery. When the hotel opened its doors in 1996, guests immediately began to report paranormal activity, including disembodied voices and a phantom gurney in the hallway.
The hotel staff has embraced the intense hauntings and keeps a 300-page notebook in the lobby for guests to write their experiences in. They have to replace the notebook every year.
The third floor of the hotel is said to be the most haunted, since it's where the old operating room was located. The most haunted room is thought to be No. 32, where two people took their lives. Guests often report seeing orbs and shadowy figures, and are encouraged to ride the original Otis elevator with the ghost of Claude Harvey - a maintenance man who met his end there in 1935.
Some guests report hearing a squeaky gurney on a linoleum floor outside their door, even though all the hallways are now carpeted. Staff have reported receiving phone calls at the front desk from unoccupied rooms as well.
The Ghost Of A Saloon Girl Supposedly Wanders The Alleys Of Jerome, Searching For Her Slayer
One of the harsh realities of living in Jerome was the constant danger experienced by women. Sammie Dean was a Texan woman who grew up poor and worked in both a clothing factory and dry goods store at the turn of the 20th century. While records on Dean's adult life are spotty, she eventually ended up working at one of the more upscale bordellos in Jerome. Dean did well for herself living in Jerome: She owned her own car, had an extravagant collection of jewelry, and was popular with clients in the red light district. According to reports, she met a tragic demise in her own home on the evening of July 10, 1930.
The scene looked like a robbery gone wrong, since both Dean's sidearm and large stash of cash were missing, and the place had been ransacked. However, all of her expensive jewelry was left untouched. Rumors floated around Jerome that the mayor's son was the culprit after Dean refused to marry him, but the case remains unsolved to this day.
Today, the ghost of Sammie Dean is said to roam the alleys of the old red light district, and some people think her spirit is still in search of the one who did her wrong.
It Was The Wildest And 'Wickedest' Of All Wild West Towns
The population of Jerome steadily grew throughout the late 1800s, and it was mostly composed of male miners. A common estimate is that the population of the town was 78% male. The gender discrepancy in Jerome led to the building of a number of saloons, gambling halls, and bordellos, which contributed to high levels of hostility and aggression. There was even a section of Jerome nicknamed "Husband's Alley" containing a number of bordellos with varying levels of respectability.
While you could get rich from mining in Jerome, there was an increasingly high chance of also getting robbed or worse. Jerome's unsavory reputation spread across the country, and in 1903, the New York Sun ran an article declaring Jerome "The Wickedest City in the West."
When Jerome saw three catastrophic fires in an 18-month period, some thought it was a sort of divine punishment for the "sinful" nature of the city, but Jerome rebuilt itself every time.
The Town's Most Popular Bordello Is Rumored To Be Haunted By Its Former Madame
With its predominantly male population, bordellos were one of the main ways miners could "relax" after a day of hard labor in Jerome. The most successful bordello in town was Jennie's Place, which was run by Jennie Bauters, a Belgian immigrant who, while not the first madame in Jerome, was definitely the most successful.
Jennie's life was cut short by a client in 1905, and some say she never left her bordello again. Now called the Mile High Inn, the site is home to countless reports of paranormal phenomena of all types, including multiple sightings of Jennie herself.
The housekeeping staff seems to be Jennie's prime target. Perhaps the former madame wants to make sure everything is done to her liking. When it's not, the ghost has been known to throw objects across the room to get the staff's attention.