Before I tell you about Oatman, I thought I would share my “Luck of the Irish” with you. Yesterday, St. Patrick’s Day in case you have forgotten, or celebrated in style and don’t remember yesterday at all :-), we came home and found a motorhome parked beside us. We are in the cheap seats at this park, because we booked last minute, so the sites are very tight, but there has been nobody beside us all week and we have had lots of space … until yesterday afternoon. However have no fear my Irish luck streak is still running. It turned out that the power in the site beside us wasn’t working so they moved the motorhome to a new site, and we are pretty sure, since it is now the weekend, that they won’t have the power fixed before we leave on Sunday!
The town of Oatman started as a mining tent camp, and during its heyday from the early 1900’s to the 1940’s, Oatman was one of the largest producers of gold in Arizona. In 1921, a fire burned down much of the town, and three years later, the main mining company, United Eastern Mines, shut down operations for good. Oatman continued to survive by catering to travelers on Route 66 but in 1952 Route 66 became I-40 and bypassed the town of Oatman and what was once a thriving town quickly became a ghost town.
Things started to turn around for Oatman when Laughlin, Nevada started building up in the 1970’s and in the late 1980’s when the old Route 66 became a popular destination for tourists. When I looked up things to do in Laughlin, Oatman was the first thing listed, okay after gambling 🙂
The Oatman Hotel was built in 1902 and is said to be the oldest two-story adobe structure in Mojave County.
Over the years the hotel has housed many miners, movie stars, and politicians. Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned at the Oatman Hotel on March 18, 1939. Gable returned the hotel often to play poker with the local miners and enjoy the solitude of the desert.
The town of Oatman was used as the location for several movies such as How The West Was Won, Foxfire and Edge of Eternity. Although it is a little hard to visualize this as an old western town with all the new cars parked on the street. I really wish tourist towns like this would close off street parking so that I could get better pictures 🙂
Oatman was named in honor of Olive Oatman, who as a young girl, was kidnapped by an Apache tribe, sold to Mojave Indians and later rescued in a trade in 1857 near the current site of the town. There is now a restaurant in town named after Olive Oatman.
The Oatman Chamber of Commerce website states “Oatman’s “Wild” Burro’s are the descendants of burro’s brought here by the miners and when no longer needed were turned loose. They wander the streets and greet our tourists. We usually have about ten burro’s and a few babies.” I was told the burro’s come into town each morning looking for food, which they know will be plentiful from eager tourists waiting for the opportunity to feed them. Pellets are for sale at many of the shops and I also heard that burros will eat all day if you feed them. When the tourists have gone home for the evening the burro’s head back to the hills for the night.
The town was interesting but unless you like to wander through gift shops (which I do, but hubby doesn’t), I think the best part of the trip was the drive out on Boundary Cone Road … more about that tomorrow 🙂
Until next time …