Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Oatman, AZ, 10/26/2015

Labelled the "ghost town that refuses to die," Oatman was founded in 1906 when gold was found here. Mines produced over 1.8M ounces of gold by the mid-1930s. By 1942 the last mines closed when the US government determined that gold was non-essential to the war (WWII) effort (copper, however, was in high demand). 

It was a boom town where 50 mines operated in the area from 1904 to 1931 with a population of 10,000 at its peak. The surrounding countryside is beautiful.

The town is named for Olive Oatman (1837-1903), the daughter of a pioneer family (parents and 7 children) who were attacked by Native Americans in Gila River, AZ (1851) as they travelled west in a wagon. Olive (age 14) and her sister, Mary (age 7), were captured; and their brother, Lorenz (15), was left for dead. The rest of the family was massacred. Olive and Mary were held as slaves and tattooed with indelible blue cactus tattoos (on the chin) to indicate their slave status. Mary subsequently died of starvation and abuse. Olive (age 19) was ransomed at Fort Yuma, AZ, for a horse, blankets and beads and reunited with her brother (who had been looking for her since the attack five years earlier). In 1865, she married a cattleman and lived in Texas. Olive died in 1903.

Oatman was reborn as a tourist attraction in the late 1960s. The main attraction, however, are the wild burros that live in the surrounding hills and come into the town each day. 

The burros came with early prospectors and were used to haul water and supplies. They were also used inside the mines to haul rocks and ore. When miners left the area, they released the burros in the area. They have survived on their own since then. Even though they were once domesticated, today they are wild and will bite or kick. Several vendors in the town now sell feed for the burros ($1) to tourists. You really do need to watch out for their poop, though. 

There are signs on the babies saying "don't feed me" as they are still nursing. 

These burros were just so darn cute, we couldn't get enough of them!

There are many stores and several restaurants as well. We enjoyed browsing. 

The Oatman Hotel is famous as the place where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon after being married in Kingman, AZ. They returned to the hotel on multiple occasions to celebrate their anniversary. Today it is said to be haunted. 

I was surprised to see that a US Post Office is still in operation. I mailed some Halloween postcards from here because I liked the postmark they use!

Part of the 2,400-mile Historic Route 66 runs through the town of Oatman. As we drove south towards Lake Havasu City, we made a couple of photo stops.

In Golden Shores, AZ, we also stopped at the Veterans' Memorial that we saw as we were traveling south on Route 66.

Oatman is about 50 miles north of Lake Havasu City. We very much enjoyed our visit to Oatman and of driving on Historic Route 66. 

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