By Amber Polo
A visit to Clarkdale feels like walking out of Arizona into a charming planned city with shady sidewalks that beg you to slow down. Clarkdale was a company town for smelter workers who processed the 100 billion pounds of copper dug from Mingus Mountain. Senator William Andrews Clark—copper magnate, railroad baron, and one of the richest men of the Gilded Age—bought the United Verde Copper Company mine in Jerome in 1888. When he decided to move his smelter further downhill in 1912, he built Clarkdale, Arizona’s first company town, between 1913 and 1930. Clarkdale included homes, a business district, a hospital, schools, and a town park as well as a clubhouse and pool.
Arizona Copper Art Museum
Don’t miss The Arizona Copper Art Museum, the only museum in the U.S. dedicated to copper. Opened in 2012, it became one of Arizona’s best loved attractions (according to travel websites).
It all began in 1958 when Pat Meinke began collecting and selling copper. In 2000 she chose Arizona for the site of a museum to house her over 1,500 artifacts: military art, cookware, religious art, drinkware, and winery and distillery equipment. Pat chose Clarkdale because of its smelting history. Learn about the magic of copper and enjoy the beautiful and utilitarian objects as you wander the 6 galleries filled with copper 6,000 copper items from 3,500 BC to the present.
Unlike most museums, the Copper Museum loves dogs. Co-founder Drake Meinke says, “We’ve been dog-friendly since the day we opened seven years ago. We never had a dog cause a problem.” The Museum staff loves dogs so much they photograph visiting dogs and preserve their pictures in a museum scrapbook and post the pictures on Facebook. Dogs show up in copper art and historical pieces. Touching allowed.
The museum’s building opened in 1928 as Clarkdale’s high school (1928-1960). During the renovation to museum cat footprints were discovered in the concrete floor. According to “history” the cat dubbed Momento, whose footprints are now highlighted in copper, was the first student.
A mummified cat now called “Skeleton” was also found, but no curse has ever been encountered.
If you want to take home some copper, drive 4 miles up the mountain to Jerome and visit Copper Mountain Antiques and meet Pat Meinke.
Dog Friendly Clarkdale
The Clarkdale Historical Society and Museum, 900 First North St., makes for another dog-friendly stop. Take time to view stories and artifacts and talk with volunteers about the town’s unique history.
And when you’re hungry choose Su Casa Mexican Restaurant’s dog-friendly patio, an outdoor table at Charlotte’s The Breakfast Place Cafe & Fudge, or Violette’s Bakery Café’s red caboose. Or pick up food and picnic in the town’s historic park gazebo.
Walk Clarkdale’s quiet residential streets and wander down to the John Bell Railroad Museum at the Verde Canyon Railroad Depot or to the Clark Memorial Clubhouse. Come back later without your dog for a ride on the railroad.
Drive out to dog-friendly Lower TAPCO River Access Point near Tuzigoot on the Verde River with boat launch and Sandy Beach.
Clarkdale is close to Tuzigoot National Monument, Jerome, and Old Town Cottonwood. Enjoy a respite from desert trails, view mountains and If you’re lucky listen to an old fashioned concert in the park.
Arizona Copper Art Museum
849 Main Street, Clarkdale, AZ