Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Jerome's Copper Returns to Clarkdale!

If you drive up the Old Highway past Cottonwood and head to Old Downtown Clarkdale, the first site you see on the left is the Old Clarkdale High School (everything here is "old") ... recently renovated to house the Copper Art Museum.  Everyone knows how much I love the history here, but with the word ART in the title, I pretty much drag my feet.  Don't let that stop YOU from visiting this amazing collection of copper and brass, however.  Here's a big piece of vein copper, pretty much as it came out of the ground.
There is an entry fee ... $8.00 each ... but don't let that stop you either.  They have the most amazing collection of copper pieces EVER!!  It happened that the man who procures all these treasures for this museum, was there to give me a personal tour.  His goal is to bring the Jerome copper back to town for everyone to see.  There was no manufacturing of any kind in this part of the country with the copper from the Jerome mines, which produced most of the copper in the entire World!!  

They also have a HUGE collection of brass trench art.  Although the sign says these were all made by men in the trenches, when I visited the World War museum in Kansas City, THEY think most of these were made by the French and purchased by the soldiers as mementos.  Nonetheless, they are just beyond words!!
Clarkdale was founded in 1912 and is a company smelter town built by William Clark for his mine (United Verde Copper) in Jerome.  He made so much stinking money at this game that Clarkdale became the most modern mining town in the world.  They had telegraph, telephones, electrical wiring, sewer and water services.  He built his own mansion across the Verde River near Pecks Lake (source of the Apache words Crooked Water), but it was destroyed by a suspicious fire in 2010.  Here's an example of some of the amazing craftsmanship.  Apparently there are places to this day where you can order walls of copper like this.  I imagine it's pretty pricey, but WOW!!!
The colors don't do this beautiful art justice.  Depending on the light source and where the reflections are coming from, it changes colors.  This ceiling panel is newly made to show that copper is still being used today!  The original town site of Clarkdale is on the National Register of Historic Districts, making every house an historic site.  Take a drive around Old Town ... just look for the signs.  
They even have copper Dead Sea Scrolls.  How amazing is THAT!!  I asked where all this stuff came from, EBAY??  The buyer said yes ... sometimes.  He is authorized to buy everything he finds that has value ... from estate sales to yard sales to EBay and auction houses.  What a fun job THAT must be!!
Clarkdale was a segregated town for much of its history, which kind of surprises me.  Mexican laborers had to live in Patio Town with a separate pool and park.  The town swimming pool was marked "For Whites Only".  In addition to that, there was a pecking order for Engineers, Executives and the "working class" as far as what part of town you got to live in.  Upper echelon employees lived in upper Clarkdale!!  This image is looking up at a brass chandelier with ceiling tiles, which came from a church.  Notice the Mason emblem as well as the cross visible at the edges.
Postcards???  Yes ... a nice collection of copper postcards.  This is one I've never seen before.  Don't you think they would get pretty damaged after being handled by the Post Office??
There were hundreds of copper tea kettles hung on wrought iron display poles, all handmade specifically for the museum.  All of the description tags are encased in horseshoes ... which of course caught my eye ... at a cost of $1.00 each versus $6.00 for the regular type of museum tag.
There was the biggest collection I've ever seen of tin chocolate molds, along with tons of history and information answering every question you've ever had about copper and metals.  From ancient times to the present, copper has shown up in history in more fascinating ways than you can imagine.  I fell in love with these jello and bread molds.  We had a couple when I was a kid, but nothing like these beauties ... and this is a very small portion of what they have!!
The kitchen room was filled with copper pots, pans, molds, water containers, utensils and even a stove covered in copper.  Talk about beautiful, but I wonder who polishes all this stuff???  On the table here was some good information about using copper for cooking.  We need copper in our bodies, and what better way than to use copper pans and utensils.  You CAN however, get too much.  That's why frying pans and pots are lined with tin, plus it helps with the heat distribution.  If from use, you can see the copper showing through the tin, it is time to have it relined.  Too much copper can be a bad thing.  Unlined pots and pans can be used for cold foods ... like your jello salad, but never use unlined items for heating or cooking.  
Of course what museum would be complete without a still ... and this one is pretty spectacular ... and shiny!!!  Here's another tidbit ... did you know that copper is used in wine grapes??  Grapes need copper to grow into the best specimens for wine.  It's a great museum you MUST see!!  Really, my pictures don't do it justice.  There are many rooms to explore ... as big as an old high school building!!  They also have a unique way of making sure you see everything ... just follow the copper footsteps on the floor!!
On my way home, I just HAD to stop in at Larry's Antiques ... two full acres of stuff, or junk depending on your view, where I was sure to find a nice little piece of copper as a memento.  There wasn't a single piece of copper in the building!!  I'm sure the museum had snatched up every piece, or maybe other people returning from the museum!!  Believe it or not I came away with nothing but some heart palpitations when I climbed to the second floor of the barn and realized that the 1/2" plywood flooring was all that held me and all that junk up in the air.  
This is one of those places where there are so many items, you just can't see them all.
I did spy something copper-like in a case, but it turned out to be old Harley parts.  If you need a piston or two, or maybe some bearings, they have them here in the original boxes.
I don't know if I explained my snafu of some months ago ... I made reservations at Cattail Cove for the Winterblast pyrotechnic show in Havasu City.  When I called last week to double check the reservations with my phone calendar dates, there was a difference of a week.  How could THAT be I asked!  Come to find out, there is a WinterFEST in Havasu the week before WinterBLAST.  I've never been to this event before, and didn't know there was a difference.  Shoot ... my reservations are for the wrong dates!!  Doesn't that just frost you??  

At this late date, I can cancel the FEST, but there are no vacancies at the inn for BLAST, and the Steps now require a permit.  My jello plans have changed ... I'm going to extend my stay here in Cottonwood for a couple more days, then head home to face the dreaded TAX meeting with my accountant.  NEXT year, I'll get my dates correct for sure!!!


  1. About the whiskey stills, back in the 1980's here in St. Louis, a friends landlady was having the basement garage filled in. It was too narrow for modern automobiles. When the workers were moving some book cases, they found a door that had been hidden. Under the main basement was another basement. It was only one room. There was a wrought iron park bench and a beautiful copper still. I offered $100. She refused. She had the room sealed off with concrete and left the bench and the still in the room. I am still in shock. The MO History Museum curator would have walked across the Mississippi River for those 2 items.

    1. Oh my goodness. What a shame to seal up all that history!!!! Some people don't care about our history -- I love it!!!!!