2014 Verde Canyon

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On April 16th, the day after income taxes were due, 45 ASURA members and their guests, the Choo-choos, set off for Jerome and the Verde Canyon. We headed up I-17 to Jerome, considered the largest ghost town in America. It is also the site of what was the richest copper mine in Arizona.

After an educational visit in the copper mining museum, we went on up the mountainside to the Jerome Grand Hotel. We reserved the entire hotel for our group so behavior was not an issue. The Jerome Grand has been many things over the decades, including a hospital where removed body parts were dropped down a laundry chute. It is now very popular as a wonderful back-in-time hotel, and, the largest haunted house in America. You cannot get into the Jerome Grand at Halloween.

The views down across the mountain to the Verde Valley below are spectacular. The old miner’s homes built into the side of the mountain are wonderful, as was our dinner at the Jerome Grand. And only one member of our group claimed to be visited during the night by something that made him pull the sheets over his head.

The next morning we had a wonderful breakfast, a couple of hours to shop and explore Jerome, and then it was down to Clarkdale for the Choo-choo ride.

The Verde Canyon railroad was built to get the copper ore from Jerome to the market. The 29 mile railroad was built in one year, totally by man and mule from Clarkdale to Williams. After the copper was done, the railroad was purchased and became a big tourist attraction.

The Choo-choos boarded the train at noon for the four hour trip. We had our own reserved 1st class car with an adjoining open-sided car. The trip up the Verde Canyon, along the Verde River is spectacular: the towering red cliffs, the soaring bald eagles, the tall green cottonwoods, and the Indian ruins along the way are real head-shakers. And in a picture or two.

Forty five tired but thrilled Choo-choos slowly chugged into the Tempe Library parking lot that evening to pick up their cars and head for home. Do you like this kind of energy? Keep your eyes open for what Travel has been planned for next year.

Choo-choo!

Story by Gary Anderson