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Arizona Route 66

Route 66 in the
Oatman Area

Arizona Route 66


Route 66 Circus- Oatman, Arizona

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.

WA66AZOatman1900.jpg (20483 bytes)
Oatman in the early 1900s

WA66AZGloryHole.jpg (12652 bytes)

Oatman wasn't quite what I expected. At first glance Oatman looked like an old mining town left over from the glory days, not unlike a score of others. These towns, mere shadows of their former selves, can be found tucked away in the backcountry of the old mining districts throughout the west. In the 1960's the box office hit "How the West was Won" was filmed in Oatman. The Glory Hole was featured in the movie. The next thing I noticed were the crowds of people wandering the main street. That reminded me a little bit of a western theme park like Knott's Berry Farm, or Old Tucson with a touch of New Orleans Bourbon Street thrown in for good measure.
Instead of wrought iron grillwork and cobblestones Oatman had corrugated tin and wood planks. Then at last I noticed the celebrated residents of Oatman, the wild burros. They were all over the place and seemed to have the run of the town. They would just wander out into the middle of the road and stop traffic dead, of which there was quite a bit of I might add. Imagine that, gridlock in a ghost town! It also looked like those burros were having too much fun causing the traffic jams. Funny, I got the impression they knew exactly what they were doing.


The Old Lee Lumber Company in Oatman

     

Fast Fanny's Place

Oatman Eatery

     

Oatman Law Enforcement ~ Uncle Charlie

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

     

Oatman was certainly alive, part art gallery, part flea market, and all zoo. I liked it.

  

Oatman Hotel

   

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

Oatman Hotel Room

The rooms at the Oatman Hotel
are not noted for modern convinces,
but they definitely have character.

       
I've heard that the old hotel is haunted. As I walked down the hallway, my footsteps echoing hollowly upon the wooden floor, and peered into the rooms rich with history, I could believe it. I had toyed with the idea of making Oatman my overnight stop and seeing if they had a room available at the old hotel. It did appear that a couple of rooms had been rented out. But the day was not over yet. I had a couple of hours of light left and was having so much fun on Route 66 I decided to continue my adventure and stop in Needles for the night. At least that's what I told myself. Could the prospect of spending the night in a room I had to share with ghosts have anything to do with my decision? I bet these rooms could be spooky in the silent wee hours of the morning.
  

Fun Run 2003 in Oatman

Photographs taken March 2001, February 2002 & May 2003


Click on an area or city of Route 66 on the map below to take a cyber tour of that section of the  Mother Road

Travel Cyber Route 66 in Arizona

Go West on Route 66

NAVIGATION NOTE: Buckle up and hold on to your mouse! These pages are arranged like the map above. I have set up this site as if you were traveling from EAST to WEST, much like the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath. You can click on the Route 66 shields to "travel" the Mother Road in either direction though. Clicking West Route 66 or East Route 66 will take you to the next town or area on the map in that direction. Or you can select any shield below to take you to that specific state.

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Route 66

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