A few days ago I visited an old mining town on the historic Route 66 called Oatman. It’s about an hour and a half drive north of Havasu through a winding two-lane road in the desert hills. Wojc and I drove an hour or so before dusk which in the desert is a magical time with light reflecting off the red desert land.
Oatman is one of a kind. It’s tiny with a few old historic storefronts selling tourist kitsch and carrots for the burros. Oatman began as a tent camp in 1915 after two prospectors struck a $10 million gold find. It thrived and grew to 3,500 people in just a year. Now it only has a little over a 100 people. When Oatman was a gold mining town the miners used burros for work. After the mines shut down in the 40’s, the burros were allowed to wander freely and to this day they are protected by the Department of the Interior.
The sign above says all that needs to be said about the local residents of Oatman and most of the Arizonan population for that matter.
Since this town exists solely based on tourism, there is plenty of entertainment including “shoot-out” reenactments, horse riding and trailers for those of us who lost touch with our country beginnings.
Next time I have company in Havasu, an Oatman excursion is a must. It’s like walking back in time, which I think all of us could use every now and then.