Focusing on two Arizona towns that had their origins in mining bonanzas, Tombstone and Jerome, Eric L. Clements offers a rare study dissecting the process of bust itself--the reasons and manners in which these towns declined as the booms ended. Tombstone was the site of one of the great silver strikes of the nineteenth century, a boom that started in the late 1870s and was over by 1890. Jerome's copper deposits were mined for much longer, beginning in the 1880s and enduring until the 1950s. But when the mining ended, each town faced its demise. However, the bust involved more than a quick fall into ghost-town status; the process of decline was more complex than superficial histories have indicated.
Clements discusses the role of labour unions in trying to stave off collapse, the changing demography of decline, the nature and expression of social tensions, the impact on institutions such as churches and schools, and the human responses to continued economic depression, including numerous strategies to survive and reduce household expenses. Today, both Tombstone and Jerome have reinvented themselves as twenty-first-century tourist attractions. Historians and students of the American Southwest will value Clements's work, and travellers will gain a deeper understanding of these revived communities.