Oatman, Arizona
A Real Old Ghost Town

Route 66

December 11, 2000

Our last adventure was again into Arizona to the ghost town of Oatman. This historic gold mining town born in 1906 as a tent camp for miners is located in the Black Mountains some 18 miles east of Bullhead City located along historic Route 66. The town offers visitors quaint shops, restaurants and saloons with live entertainment. A town landmark is the "wild" burros that roam the street looking for hand-outs and friendly pats. Millions of dollars worth of gold was taken out of the mountain, and can still be found in small quantities. The road out is desolate but paved. All along the approach, someone one had decorated the brush growing along the side of the road with all kinds of Christmas decorations. In addition to the manmade decorations Mother nature herself managed some very pretty decorations in the form of flowering cactus. They were all a strange sight to see, against the harsh mountain backdrop. As you pull into town the wild burros are immediately evident. The ones we saw appeared to be the town's mascots and as such have the rule of the roost. There were 12 of them wandering the main street in town. Carrots are the specialty they prefer. They range from a baby which was not yet weaned to a mother who was expecting any day now. We wandered the streets and shops. Since I knew that there were going to be burros there I armed myself with a bag of carrots. Bob and I fed this one and that one and finally found ourselves at the end of the street. I made the mistake of turning my back on a "very pregnant" female to feed a small one. From some 15 feet away Bob watched the female walk up behind me and not-so-patiently stand waiting for her carrot. When I bent over to pet the baby, the pregnant female gently but firmly bumped me in the butt, sufficiently to cause me to lose my balance and have to step forward. Now that's a picture you won't see on the website in the near future. (Only because Bob was laughing so hard he couldn't get the camera still in time). When we talked with one of the local merchants he told us that this was the in-town herd made up of all adult females. The only exceptions were the juveniles. It seems that the "macho" male had his in-town herd and his out-of-town herd that he managed to keep separated. The local told us that the ones out of town were hard to get to see because they were a little more skittish than the ones in town. I did find out from a friend of mine, Suzi Ashby, that several years ago she was a tour guide and had brought a busload of tourists up for a look-see of Oatman. Well, one of the tourists had fed the burros and it followed her onto the bus. Seems it required several carrots and a lot of coaxing to convince the burro that she really wasn't interested in going to Laughlin to continue the tour with the group. After we finished checking out the burros we looked at several of the shops in town that featured items by local Arizona artists. Then we headed up to the Oatman Hotel to find out more about their resident ghost. According to the hotel manager the ghost, nicknamed Oatie, is friendly and thought to be the spirit of a cowboy who died behind the hotel over half a century ago. Employees of the hotel claimed to have had several encounters with Oatie, however, he must have taken the day off when we were there because there was nary a groan to be heard from him. The hotel today is a combination hotel-bar-coffee shop and museum. You can even rent a room there for the night if you're brave enough. Fortunately (ah I meant unfortunately) we had to return to our trailer in Laughlin NV or we would have stayed. In addition to their ghost another of the hotel's claim to fame is that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon there. We didn't leave without a souvenir though. It seems that when we had stopped to photograph the Christmas decorations in the desert, I picked up several pretty rocks as is my custom. When we got them back and washed them up, lo and behold flakes of bright gold shone out from several depressions in one of the rocks. What a great ending to an interesting day. Oatman is definitely a "must-see" if you get out that way. If you would like some more information on Oatman and the surrounding area check out this website: Oatman, AZ.

Good Luck! Have Fun! and Stay Safe!