“A "Living Ghost Town"”
Oatman is a former mining town in the Black Mountains of Mohave County, Arizona, United States. Located at an elevation of 2,710 feet (830 m), it began as a tent camp soon after two prospectors struck a $10 million gold find in 1915, though the area had been already settled for a number of years. Oatman's population grew to more than 3,500 in the course of a year.
After a few other names, Oatman was named in the posthumous honor of Olive Oatman, a young Illinois girl who was taken captive 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.
1924 would see United Eastern Mines, the town's main employer, permanently shut down operations after producing $13,600,000 worth of gold (at the then government controlled market value of $20 per ounce; in today's gold market price of $1300 per oz. the equivalent gold value today is over $850,000,000). The district had produced $40 million (or $2,600,000,000 or so in today's market price) in gold by 1941, when the remainder of the town's gold mining operations were ordered shut down by the US Government as part of the country's war effort since metals other than gold were needed. Oatman was fortunate insofar as it was located on busy U.S. Route 66 and was able to cater to travelers driving between Kingman and Needles, California. Even that advantage was short-lived as the town was completely bypassed in 1953 when a new route between Kingman and Needles was built. By the 1960s, Oatman was all but abandoned.
Totally fun especially if you have kids in the 7 and up. The town has touristy shops full of curios and is home to a large pack of donkeys. They are quite tame and enjoy eating from your hand. A few of the stores sell small bags of hay cubes that will make you real popular with the donkeys. Since they recognize the bag, little kids sometimes get scarred and drop the bag and run. These are "wild" so they can kick, but I have never seen it. Keep an eye out for stickers on the heads of the smallest donkeys saying not to feed them. They are still in the nursing stage. The gunfights are pretty fun to watch and the gunfighters often precede the fight with historical information about Oatman and the surrounding area. The road is quite twisty for several miles between Oatman and Kingman, but has beautiful vistas. Stop and take some pics along the way if you are prone to car sickness (or just drive slow!). Beautiful drive should not be missed.
Scenic route, well worth the drive. The locals were very welcoming and the town is charming and very unique. Visit it but drive carefully, lots of donkeys! ;)
Best highlight of a trip! Amazing! Never seen anything like it and YES the drive up on ONE side is TREACHEROUS.....scary!! Feeding the wild donkeys is fun. WORTH THE STOP. Been back 3 times! Will stop again!
Great spot to stop, very unique. Burros roaming the streets (watch where you step) and the Hotel bar with the dollar bills on the walls is great. If you approach from Needles, it's a very easy drive (straight lines and then minimal curves before you get to the town), but if you approach from Kingman be prepared for an older road with lots of curves and turns. We arrived from Needles and drove through to Kingman. There are some GREAT views approaching Kingman from Oatman but if you are prone to carsickness be prepared.
The drive to Oatman was the scariest drive of my life. I'm talking narrow, steep, cliffside switchbacks. Cool place though!!
We rode through on our motorcycles in June 2014 ,very scenic ,warm just watch for sand/stones if on the bikes. Great part of RT66.
Well worth the visit. Interestingly, the donkeys are allowed to roam freely but the town doesn't claim responsibility for their upkeep. Evidently they are leftovers from the mining days and are just allowed to do their thing - BLM steps in to assist if they become problematic. Quaint, charming, rustic, and unusual, we were glad we took the detour - even if the road coming from the east was a bit austere - winding, concrete poured to hold the edges of the road together...lol We departed on the west side which was far gentler. Watch out for the donkey's they like to eat anything, my aunt was missing a bag from her purse (later recovered) and one stuck it's head in the car and took my sister's breakfast burrito...lol The local bar is a novelty in itself, lots of cute decorations and the IPA beers are excellent. Our trip ended abruptly as a large storm moved in and shut down power to the city - where locals politely urged us to get out of town before heavy rain started - we heeded the advice, but were left with much curiosity as to what we missed...
Great trip - just do it!
The drive to Oatman is one of the most epic on all of Route 66. The business owners are friendly and very welcoming. There are donkeys EVERYWHERE! Don't feed them on the sidewalk though, and if you eat somewhere, don't sit by the windows b/c the flies are a little rough. Honestly one of the cutest little towns I've ever visited. Parts feel touristy, but overall it's a real treat.
great place to go thru. just the way this small wild town looks, with it's old one hotel (look at the hotel walls, covered with thousand of single dollars"), the "wild wild west" buildings, and the nice citizens. worth a short visit. defenetly not just for kids.
This was an unexpected joy! The owner of our hotel recommended that we swing through Oatman to see the wild donkeys. Amused at the thought of it, I had to make the trip -- and so glad that I did. the drive over the pass from Kigman, AZ was awesome. The winding roads through with steep drop-offs made the drive an adventure in itself. The town of Oatman has a historic feel with many shops and a few places to grab a bite. The donkeys are the highlight of the stop. Alfalfa feed pellets are sold in the stores to feed the donkeys -- and they know it! Feeding them is fun and by no means are the donkeys aggressive. You can even pet them with no problems. Highly recommend it for both adults and kiddos. Be sure to bring your hand sanitizer =)
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