Road Trip: Stop 4, Oatman, Arizona
Route 66, the most Iconic and Historic Road in the world.
We drove on the old/true Route 66, and what better way to experience then stopping on the side of the road and checking it out.
The Route 66 stretch from Kingman to Oatman features numerous switchbacks but is paved, albeit a bit narrow.
In the early years, this road was a challenge to navigate. However, today, anyone with even moderate mountain driving experience shouldn’t have any problems.
The view is stunning!
Anyone who’s watched Cars might also recognise the scenery!
Oatman started life over 100 years ago as a mining tent camp and quickly became a flourishing gold-mining centre.
In 1915, two miners struck a $10 million gold find, and within a year, the town’s population grew to more than 3,500.
Oatman was named in honour 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.
Oatman 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 travellers on old U.S. Route 66. But in the 1960s, when the route became what is now Interstate 40, Oatman almost died.
An authentic old western town, Oatman is a really fun place to visit.
Oatman’s “wild” donkeys are the descendants of donkeys brought here by the miners in the late 1800s; 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. Pellets and carrots are for sale at many of the shops — the donkeys will eat all day if you feed them.
Shortly before sunset, they wander back to the hills for the night.
Let’s talk about jewellery! I had to buy a piece. Beautiful local stones, it would be rude if I didn’t.
Gloria and I got matching… well kinda. We both got a piece that will remind us of our trip together.
The Oatman Hotel, built in 1902, is the oldest two-story adobe structure in Mojave County and has housed many miners, movie stars, politicians and other scoundrels. The town was used as the location for several movies such as How The West Was Won, Foxfire and Edge of Eternity.
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 Oatman Hotel. Gable returned there often to play poker with the local miners and enjoy the solitude of the desert.
This quirky “living” ghost town is pretty touristy and overrun by donkeys as you can see, but it’s managed to retain its charm and welcomes scores of visitors every year.
We had a great time walking around the town.
If you find yourself driving down Route 66, do yourself a favour and pull into Oatman for an afternoon or an entire day. Grab a drink at the Oatman Hotel’s bar, which has thousands of dollar bills lining the walls. Get lunch at Olive Oatman Restaurant, and then a scoop of ice cream at the Ice Cream Saloon, which features a large painting of Olive Oatman.
Great place to walk around, stretch your legs from being stuck in a car and have a roam.