A few weeks ago, a friend of a friend asked me inquisitively, “Would you be interested in a free three-day, two night stay at the Golden Nugget in Laughlin?” Without much thought, I quickly responded with a “Sure”. Next thing I knew, I was given an envelope holding the special certificate. The only downside was Al and I didn’t have much time to schedule our get away considering the certificate was due to expire rather soon.
Thus two days later on Jaunary 31st, Al and I packed a small bag and hopped in my little red truck bound for Laughlin, Nevada. Since we were starting our journey in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, we guesstimated the drive would take a little over an hour allowing us plenty of time to dilly and dally and take a detour off the beaten path. And dilly dally we did!
One of my favorite things about blogging is engaging with you, my readers. I love your suggestions, recommendations as well as reading your own personal blogs enlightening me on sites to see and things to do. Thanks to a few of you, Oatman, Arizona made my list of places I wanted to visit, and it just so happen to be “kind of” on our way to Laughlin.
Off the beaten path
The town of Oatman started life over 100 years ago as a mining tent camp, and quickly became a flourishing gold-mining center.
In 1915, two miners struck a claim worth 10 million dollars in gold, and within a year, the town’s population grew to more than 3,500.
But both the population and mining booms were short-lived. In 1921, a fire burned down most of the small shacks, and three years later the main mining company, United Eastern Mines, shut down operations for good.
Oatman survived by catering to travelers on old U.S. Route 66. But in the 1960s, when the road was rerouted to what is now Interstate 40, Oatman almost died.
Since then, Oatman has undergone a tourism renaissance thanks to the increasing interest in Route 66 and the explosive growth of the nearby gaming town of Laughlin, Nevada, which promotes visits to the historic town.
Oatman is a fun little place to visit. It’s an authentic old western town with wild burros roaming about and gunfights staged in the street. Although the burros are said to be tame and can be hand fed, they can also get aggressive if you have food in hand. We watched one women get surrounded by the burros and nipped when she wasn’t giving them food fast enough.
And when I say food … for $1, purchased from any number of vendors, you’re given a paper bag filled with hay nuggets to hand feed the burros.
The towns people ask that you please not bring apples, carrots, etc. to feed the wild burros. It all has to do with burro poop 💩 After all, someone has to keep the streets clean of dodo for all the tourists. With that said, I do recommend you watch where you step! 🤭
Do note, the little babies, aside from being irresistibly cute, have stickers on their head saying, “do not feed me anything“. They aren’t ready for solid food just yet and are still nursing. Thus, it’s not in their best interest to feed them any hay nuggets or anything else for that matter.
Oatman’s “wild” burros are the descendants of burros brought here by the miners in the late 1800’s. When the miners no longer needed them, they were turned loose. Each morning these burros come into town looking for food. They wander the streets and greet the tourists and will eat all day if you feed them. Shortly before sunset they wander back to the hills for the night.
The Oatman Hotel, built in 1902, is the oldest two-story adobe structure in Mojave County and has housed many miners, movie stars, politicians and other scoundrels. The town was used as the location for several movies such as How The West Was Won, Foxfire and Edge of Eternity.
Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned at the Oatman Hotel on March 18, 1939. Their honeymoon suite is still one of the major attractions at the Oatman Hotel. Gable returned there often to play poker with the local miners and enjoy the solitude of the desert.
Al and I ate lunch in “the Saloon” which is located in the hotel. Although the food was average, the atmosphere was entertaining and anything but average.
What’s in a name?
After a few other names were passed over, “Oatman” was chosen for the name of the town in honor of Olive Oatman, a young Illinois girl who had been taken captive by Indians during her pioneer family’s journey westward in 1851 and forced into slavery. 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 1856 at Fort Yuma, Arizona.
If you enjoy history and quirky out-of-the-way places, you’ll enjoy a visit to Oatman, Arizona. Al and I spent about an hour strolling around town and another hour enjoying lunch at The Saloon. It was a fun couple of hours and I’m glad we made the stop, but I don’t think I’d recommend venturing too far out of the way for a visit. Although the drive here was interesting and definitely worthwhile. Another place checked off my list!