As I mentioned in the last post, Larry, Onyx & I visited Oatman Monday afternoon. On our last visit to Oatman, the Laughlin River Run was in full bloom & it was impossible to move in town. Not so today. We drove up with not much traffic & easily found a good parking spot. We immediately spotted the first of many resident burros so Onyx didn't get to explore with us. She was disappointed, but it was safer this way.
An 'authentic' old western town, Oatman boasts burros roaming the streets and daily gunfights. The burros are tame and can be hand fed. We read that the "Wild" Burro's are the descendants of burro's brought here by the miners in the late 1800's. When the miners no longer needed them they were turned loose. Each morning they come into town looking for food. They wander the streets and greet the tourists. Burro pellets and carrots are for sale at many of the shops. We understand that shortly before sunset they wander back to the hills for the night.
Our first impression was that the town is mostly shops selling t-shirts, jewelry & other 'touristy stuff'. But we soon noticed the Oatman Hotel, built in 1902. It is the oldest two-story adobe structure in Mojave County and has housed many miners, movie stars, politicians and other scoundrels. Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned at the Oatman Hotel March 18, 1939. Their honeymoon suite is still one of the major attractions at the hotel. Gable returned there often to play poker with the local miners and enjoy the solitude of the desert. The town was used as the location for several movies. Such as 'How The West Was Won', 'Foxfire' and 'Edge of Eternity'.
Next stop, Olive Oatman Restaurant & Saloon. After a few other names, Oatman was named in the posthumous honor of Olive Oatman, a young Illinois girl who was kidnapped by (presumably) Yavapai Indians and forced to work as a slave. She was later traded to Mohave Indians who adopted her as a daughter and had her face tattooed in the custom of the tribe. She was released in 1855 near the current site of the town.
An informational sign states that Oatman began over 100 years ago as a mining tent camp and quickly became a flourishing gold-mining center. In 1915, two miners struck a $14 million gold find, and within a year, the town's population grew to more than 3,500. It was served by a narrow gauge rail line between 1903 and 1905 that ran 17 miles to the Colorado river near Needles, California.
But both the population and mining booms were short-lived. In 1921, a fire burned down many of the smaller shacks in town, and three years later, the main mining company, United Eastern Mines, shut down operations for good. Oatman survived by catering to travelers on old U.S. Route 66. But in the 1960s, when the route became what is now, Interstate 40, Oatman almost died.
Fortunately, in the 1970's nearby Laughlin, Nevada started building up as a popular gambling Mecca, and in the late 1980s Route 66 again became a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. Oatman started becoming very lively again. So there you have it, a bit of info on Oatman and a few pics as well. Instead of coming back down the same route we took in, we decided to travel the 22 miles over the mountain to I-40. It was pretty as we made our way to the summit but the way down was a bit boring with not much to see. If you make the trip, we suggest getting to the summit & then turning around at the turn-out viewpoint. You'll have seen the best there is by then...Just our humble opinion, lol!