Route 66 Caravan

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Route 66 Caravan Road Log:
May 04, 2003


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Oatman

Oatman had its origins in 1902 when prospector Ben Taddock was riding along a trail and spotted something sparkling in the sunlight. That sparkle turned out to be gold and the boom was on. Originally called Vivian, the name was changed to Oatman in 1909. Some speculate that the name came from Olive Oatman, a young girl who was captured by Indians in 1851. According to legend, she was found and released in 1857 near the present-day site of Oatman. The mines closed down in the late 1930's and if it wasn't for Route 66 Oatman might have withered and blown away in the hot Mojave winds. When Oatman was bypassed by the new alignment of Route 66 in 1953 it almost did go the way of most ghost towns, but it managed to hold on and today is a popular tourist spot.
Fast Fanny's Gift Shop & Digital Magic There are many quaint and interesting shops along old Route 66 in Oatman. Jackie Rowland of Fast Fanny's was instrumental in getting a Route 66 Roadside Attraction sign for the town of Oatman. Can you believe we drove our 36 foot 66 Caravan RV up Sitgreaves Pass to deliver it? Really? J
         

The landmark Oatman Hotel has seen its share of history. In 1939 Clark Gable and Carol Lombard spent their honeymoon night here.

Oatman Fun Run

         
Get Your Kicks at Oatman Route 66

The narrow streets of Oatman were alive with classic cars and hot rods for the Annual Arizona Route 66 Fun Run.

 

Oatman Roadside Attraction Sign Ceremony

     

Oatman Board of Director Jeffey the Burro

The most celebrated residents of Oatman are the wild burros. They wander all over the place and seemed to have the run of the town. Sometimes they just meander out into the middle of the road and stop traffic dead, of which there is quite a bit of I might add. Imagine that, gridlock in a ghost town! It also appeared to me that these burros were having too much fun causing the traffic jams. Funny, I got the impression they knew exactly what they were doing.
     
Jeffy the Burro just wandered over to the Hampton Roadside Attraction sign to see what all the commotion was about. Relishing all the attention, Jeffy decided to stay. Do you suppose she was trying to usurp Jim's celebrity status? Jeffy is expecting and will be delivering a new baby burro in a few weeks. If it's a girl it will be named "Fast Fanny" in honor of Hampton's Save- A- Landmark visit.

Jeffey the Burro

     
Mark& JoAnne Powell from England

Mark and JoAnne Powell were married three years ago by Uncle Charlie in Oatman during the fun run. They come back every year to celebrate their anniversary, which is not that unusual, except they are from England!

     
Oatman Roadside Attraction Sign

Uncle Charlie

Uncle Charlie: Sheriff, Gunfighter, Preacher and Bartender
~ an all around useful man in Oatman!

 

Gold Road and Sitgreaves Pass

Sitgreaves Pass
Beautiful vista at Sitgreaves Summit

Route 66 becomes narrow and steep on the Gold Road grade but presents no problem to the careful driver, and when the speed limit drops - take it seriously. Of all the stretches of Route 66 this was perhaps the most intimidating of all, with its steep grades, narrow road, and hairpin curves.

  

  

 

In the Grapes of Wrath, what was it Pa Joad said about this old road as he looked back at it from the safety of the Colorado River? Didn't he compare those mountains to the bones of a country? This was the Mother Road of the Grapes of Wrath, and the bones of a country opened before us as we stared out upon the vast vista at the summit.

This part of Route 66 was bypassed by a new straighter alignment in 1953 that did away with the need to traverse the steep mountain grades to Sitgreaves Pass. I remember going around a curve and looking to my right at the road going in the opposite direction. I could have rolled down my window and spit on it! I've done a lot of traveling in the western mountains and these are some of the sharpest hairpins I could recall being on. I could understand now why some travelers of old Route 66 would pay the locals to drive their car up the grade for them or even have their vehicle towed over the summit.

Cool Springs Camp

Cool Springs Camp 2001 Cool Springs Camp 2003

Cool Springs Camp 2001

Cool Springs Camp 2003

Ned and Michelle Leuchtner have a dream! Last year they bought the ruins of the old Cool Springs Camp and plan on restoring it to its former glory. Originally built in 1926, this Mobil Oil Station serviced Route 66 travelers until it burned in 1966. During the hey day of Route 66 it had a cafe and tourist cabins and was the last stop before the much feared Gold Road and Sitgreaves Pass.

Leuchtner Family at Cool Springs
Jim Conkle with (L-R) Sarah, Ned (proudly holding a Cool Springs picture), Michelle, Sophie and Friends at Cool Springs Camp.

 

 

 

Ned, a real estate agent, and his wife, Michelle, are from Chicago and plan to eventually relocate to the land of little moisture, fresh air and abundant sun of the Arizona desert on Route 66. The resurrection of Cool springs Camp will be a boon to the Mother Road. Thanks to preservationists like the Leuchtner's the experience of old Route 66 will live on for future generations to enjoy.

 


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