Peeps in High Places

Peeps…not you, as in “Hey, peeps!” I’m talking those chick-shaped, sugar-coated-sugar (“marshmallow”) blobs that appear at Easter. Some people love ’em. Some people hate ’em. And some people turn them into conceptual art projects. Or maybe just release them back into the wild, like this one:

This Peep was part of a gaggle of Peeps found a few years ago while exploring the town of Jerome, Arizona. I mean, we were exploring the town, but it seems so were the Peeps, who randomly appeared throughout this mountainside town.

I’m not saying that Peeps are one of my favourite things (they’re not), but for the purpose of this blog, a found Peep is – especially since it was found in one of my favourite – and largest – kind of found objects: a ghost-town. Not my first, if you read my earlier post about a BC ghost town. Jerome, Arizona is a “living” ghost town, in that it’s still inhabited.

Jerome is a former mining town sitting a mile up on Cleopatra Hill, between Flagstaff and Prescott.  Jerome has a colourful history, in the Wild West tradition: gold rushes, brothels, gunslingers, disasters, natural and otherwise. At the height of the 19th century mining boom, it was one of  the largest cities in Arizona. But then a series of strikes, fires and other events closed down the mines, and the town was mostly abandoned, down to about 50 people. More recently it’s been partly repopulated (current population around 350 or so).

That’s Jerome in the distance:

Jerome from a distance

The small number of folks who stayed behind still enjoyed a nice view and some cheap real estate.

So it was still an ok place to live for some, although remote, at least for a while. But Jerome was sitting on abandoned mine shafts that started to collapse, and the buildings sitting atop the mines didn’t fair so well. Many buildings cracked, like this old theatre:

And others collapsed.

The town jail slid right down the hill.

But despite the devastation and continued precariousness of the place, the die-hards remained. And some artists moved in, as artists do when neighbourhoods become really cheap. Creative types have even taken advantage of the ruins. This studio is “open” in more ways than one:

Talk about optimism: this fixer-upper is for sale:

I was told the pink trim may indicate that it was a former brothel. A selling point?

The town is attracting tourism; there are shops and restaurants, and a couple of historic hotels to stay in, if you’re brave. Although I couldn’t shake the vague fear that the sidewalks might collapse at any time (I was assured they wouldn’t), I loved this place. It’s a great place to visit and explore—just ask the Peeps.

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