The Heart of Central Arizona - Clarkdale

By: Arizona Office of Tourism

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October 20, 2016

More than home to Verde Canyon Railroad...

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Arizona Office of Tourism

These articles are brought to you by staff of the Arizona Office of Tourism, as well as local tourism organizations around the state.

Clarkdale by Design

In 1911, native-Montanan, William A. Clark, owner of the United Verde Copper Company on Cleopatra Hill in Jerome decided to change the mine’s extraction method to an "open pit" process. In order to achieve this, the smelter and railroad terminus, at the top of the mine, had to be relocated. Building a new smelter two thousand feet down the mountain led to the founding of Clarkdale. Providing housing for the 7,000 employees was another dilemma confronted by the United Verde Copper Company.

Unlike Jerome, which grew around a hodgepodge of mining camps, the town of Clarkdale was planned. Clark, a hands-on business leader, took full control of the construction of Clarkdale and built it as a monument to himself. He supervised and prescribed every detail of construction from copper pipes for the modern sewer system to hardwood maple floors in all houses. Such amenities were not common in company towns of this era, but Clark used the finest and most modern construction methods and materials in all of his industrial projects. He directed the same, careful attention to the building of Clarkdale.

Once the smelter site had been chosen, the commercial and residential areas were designed around the remaining two sections of flat land divided by a sloping hill, aptly known as upper and lower town. Unfortunately, neighborhoods reflected the social prejudices of the mining community. As a "company town", everything remained the property of the United Verde Copper Company. Employees paid rent and were expected to abide by the certain rules, whether they were on or off duty.

The smelter constructed from 1912 to 1915, after the railroad, also financed by Clark, was started in 1911 and completed in 1912. The standard gauge Verde Valley Railroad bypassed existing older lines and connected the new smelter to the outside world. These profitable decisions eventually turned the United Verde Copper Company into the richest privately-owned copper mine in the world.

Clarkdale Today

The Town of Clarkdale also hosts the “Made in Clarkdale Art Show” beginning the first Friday of December. This art exhibit and sale runs for 10 days and is known the world over. There are over 50 artists, architects, desktop publishers, photographers and crafters, living and working in Clarkdale, who exhibit. Artists enjoy the climate and low-key atmosphere Clarkdale offers. Woodworkers, jewelry designers, leather crafters, metal smiths and sculptors sell their creations to a worldwide market.

Clarkdale, located in the Verde Valley of Yavapai County, is approximately 110 miles north of Phoenix and 25 miles southwest of Sedona, a contiguous neighbor of Cottonwood, and a short drive from Jerome. The current residential population is approximately 3,100 people. Since the inception of the Verde Canyon Railroad in 1990, the railroad brings approximately 100,000 people to Clarkdale each year. This gateway to relaxed adventures---scenic, historic, cultural and recreational--- is an ideal spot to live, work and play.

Excerpts courtesy of the Clarkdale Chamber of Commerce and Heritage Conservancy Board.

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