Travel back in time to Arizona’s Wild West with a visit to the unique mining town of Oatman, Arizona, located on old Route 66. At elevation 2,700 feet in the Black Mountains, the small Mohave County town intrigues tourists with wild burros, gunslingers and ghosts. The entire town is walkable, and despite a fire that burned much of it in 1921, you can still see several original sites.
History of Oatman, AZ
Melody Arnold (00:14) – Oatman, Arizona was a mining town in the early 1800s. It became a big mining community of 3,500 people in 1915 when a guy found a million dollars worth of gold at the Moss Mine. And in 1942, this town closed during World War II. Then, when route 66 became the historical trail, that’s when this town started to pick back up and rebuild.
Raymond Stelljes, Owner of Crazy Ray’s (00:39) – Lots of creative people in Oatman. They’ve got lots of antiques. If you’re looking for something oddball, this is the place you’re going to find it. It’s a wonderful place to bring kids.
MA (00:52) – We get over half a million people a year through here. And they come from Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands. And they love it because of the way the town is. It looks like it’s so rustic and so western.
Well, some of these are still original buildings, mining buildings. They still have the original church. They have the original mine up here where they weighed the gold. People travel a long time, and they’re shocked when they come in here. And it’s mainly the burros that bring in the attraction for the people. Oatman, Arizona was originally named Black Mountains.
RS (01:31) – The town was named after Olive Oatman. Her Mormon family was coming across the desert.
MA (01:36) And she and her sister were captured by the Apache Indians.
RS (01:39) They were prisoners for about four years.
MA (01:42) They then went to Yuma. And then she was traded there for beads to the Mohave Tribe which is the tribe that lives here in this area.
RS (01:51) She got tattooed from the next family. They tattooed it (her chin), and people like to say that it’s tattooed to a slave. But it really wasn’t. It was to make you part of that family.
MS (02:02) – When you’re coming in to Oatman, stop at the Cool Springs because they always have entertainment, food, drinks. Then you’re coming on over the mountain and you think that it’s never going to end coming over that road. And then you come down here. And people say – “Wow, this is here?”
For more information about Oatman, Arizona, visit oatmangoldroad.org.