Oatman Arizona: The land of wild donkeys and hogs.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Back in Kansas a friend of ours told us about a town in Arizona named Oatman. She said it was a cute old mining town turned tourist trap. I love a bit of history and a tourist trap so I thought yeah I'll go. Then she tells us that the place is home to a bunch of wild burros. So I thought I definitely have to go.

We got lucky and the RV park we are staying at is not far from this unique little town so we got the chance to go. I have heard the town referred to as a ghost town but I do not think that moniker fits. Sure it is not as lively as it was in its hay-day, when it was a booming mining town, but it still has a bit of life in it.

The town, at least the touristy part, is a single road lined with old buildings full of shops. There is a historic hotel with an interesting restaurant on the ground floor. A mine museum with a short walk cut in to the mountain just big enough to make you feel claustrophobic. Scattered about the shops along the side walks and on the porches are a bunch of cut-outs for photos.

I have heard that they have a shoot out but both times we have been we have missed it. I also hear that they have people who walk around dressed up like wild west shop keeps and cowboys but I have not seen a lot of them. We did meet a town drunk who looked like someone out of the old west and if he was acting he was convincing. We thought for sure he was drunk.

Mostly what we saw there was tourists, bikers, and burros. My favorite part though is all the ass jokes. There are a lot of jokes about losing my ass or finding my ass in Oatman. We just had to go in to the shop called the classy ass. There is an antique shop called the Glory Hole that I also had to go shopping in too. I got a cool book of Roman poems. The shop keeper was really friendly too I wish we had had more time to talk with her. She seemed to know about everything in the town.

We spent our time there walking around inside the shops looking at all the cool stuff for sale. A few of the stores are just imported mass produced junk that you tend to find in touristy places. Some of them though are real treasure troves of antiques. I love to see all the old tools and mining equipment.   

We enjoyed all we ate while we were there despite the mounds of burro poop that lined the road. We even found a candy shop with pomegranate Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. Ice cream seemed to be the treat of the day as almost everyone turned to the cold snack to cool down in the Arizona heat.

If you walk the street and read the signs hung up on almost every wall you will learn a thing or two about the town. There are a lot of Ass jokes but there is also a tale of the horror that lead to the towns name. The story sounds like something out of a block buster movie. I think someone wrote a book about it. Find the story here.

The hotel in the center of town is a popular draw. It has a little museum upstairs that is more like a gift shop and not worth the trek up those crooked steps. It is the oldest adobe two story building left in the county. A famous Hollywood couple honeymooned there in 1938. Clark Gable and Carol Lombard may have been the first of the famous to find more then gold in Oatman but not the last.

Perhaps their most famous guest of the hotel is the late William Ray Flour better known as Oatie the ghost. An old miner who drunk himself to death. No surprising feat in a town with two bars for every shop and 36 million in gold passing through. It must have been quite the town as its gravity sucked in the now famous route 66 that is partly responsible for its recent rejuvenation.

I am glad I am staying close by as I think I would like to go back and spend some time. I think that most people can get their fill in one day but you could make a full day out of it. Just a suggestion though if you've got to go, use the facilities in the hotel not the public restroom at the end of the road. Remember there is more than gold in Oatman.

p.s. We took a ton of photos on our phone and then had to update our phone. Since then we have not been able to access 99% of the photos we have taken since December.

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