Monday, May 21, 2012

Oatman Arizona - Route 66 Ghost Towns

Oatman is a former mining town in the Black Mountains of Arizona. While camped out at Needles, we took a day trip to this place.  Early last century, gold was discovered in the area and through the years about 1.5 million ounces of gold was mined there. This little town once had a population of about 4000 people. Today less than 100 people live in and around Oatman. It's right on route 66, which was once a major American highway. I'm pretty that sure most everyone reading this has heard of Route 66. Right?

A long drive through the desert to Oatman. It's in the those mountains on the horizon. Because it's winter here in the desert, the daytime temperature is only about 80 degrees F. If this was the middle of summer, it would probably be closer to 115 degrees. Too hot for me!
Say what? Never seen this before...

Well, now I have! On our way into town, we spotted these two wild burros by the side of the road. 

One example of the MANY old shacks around the town.  The desert at it's finest. If something breaks down, or falls down, just leave it where it sits and the harsh climate will eventually deal with it.

I wasn't expecting this! Wild burros are all over the town. They are NOT pets. These guys are all descendants of the original burros used in the mining of gold over a century ago.  They come and go as they please and aren't shy about moving you out of their way, if you are in it.  Note the old ruins in the background.

A look down main street. It's actually part of the old Route 66.  Other than the tourists heading for Oatman, VERY little traffic comes this way.  Most of these cars belong to tourists. Back in the day, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon in the hotel on the right side of the street. People were still mining gold here until world war two.

I caught this guy peeking at me. I think he was a shy one. I'm not sure of the sex, but it was darn cute! (if you look real close, you can see my reflection in his eye.

Burros entertaining the tourists. If you have a bag in your hand, they will snatch it from you and shake it very hard, hoping that some food will fall out of it.

Don't worry! It's not hurt or dead. It's sleeping...

See? I told you he was okay. 

One of the nice views from town.

I have no idea what it was, but now it's just a bunch of adobe and concrete ruins. You might want to embiggen this one.

The old "Gold City Hotel." I believe it is the oldest still standing building in town. For sure, it's the oldest building being used. 



  1. Oh is sad to see how the entire town just kind of mellow down like that, but it is still full of history.

    The burros are beautiful, and amazingly mixing in with people.

  2. Woah, looks like a pretty cool place... would love to poke around ruins like that. I suppose the town is named after Olive Oatman, who spent a few years in captivity in the mid 1800's after being kidnapped by indians in the area, came back with a tattooed face. (There's a good book about her, btw, title : The Blue Tattoo). Thanks for this virtual tour, can almost smell the burros... :-)

  3. I thought that burro was soon to be a ghost burro. Actually, for a ghost town there sure is a lot of life! And as always your life on the road sure looks fun.

  4. Looks like a town with a lot of personality! Hope they are capitalizing on what tourism they get. If nothing else, the scenery and wild burrows should draw people.
    Excellent photos, Pat!

  5. sure hope those burros find enough to eat. sound like they've learned to scavenge. interesting place.

  6. What terrific shots of such an interesting place -- this one I've never been to! Love the burros and they do seem at home, don't they! Love the one sleeping in the street!! Beautiful blue skies and those old ruins are really fascinating -- wonder what it was??? Thanks for sharing, Pat! Enjoy your day!

  7. One of those burros is either pregnant, or VERY well fed.

    I'm a lot like that old shack, broken down and waiting for the climate to deal with me!

    Great images, as always!

  8. I think that mule sleeping in the street might have had too much to drink last night hahaha.

  9. The town is so cool and I just love the Burros.

  10. I enjoyed all of the ghoasts and burror Pat!

  11. Nice pictures, very handsome these donkeys. When I was little donkeys were common. Now it is difficult to see one.

  12. I remember going through Oatman back in the 1950's and 1960's when I was a kid and our family (mom, dad, me and 2 brothers) would head for Oklahoma to visit relative every summer. Sure has changed.

  13. You know it's a sleepy little town when a burro can actually lay down in one of its streets and sleep.
    Is the hotel still up and operating?

  14. Way cool place. Thanks for sharing some of the history that goes with the photos.

  15. Oh, I can always count on you for some interesting trips! Love that burro sleeping in the middle of the road, as one does... too gorgeous. This route looks familiar, I might have gone down route 66 many moons ago. Thanks for sharing with us!

  16. There are a lot of towns like that out this way, too. Not with burros taking over the town though. They sure are cute & comfy, sleeping wherever. Interesting trip you took, Pat.

  17. Isn't Oatman a hoot??? We kept expecting it to take off like Jerome did/has. Maybe the burros are in charge?

  18. i love that burro just laid down and made himself comfortable

  19. Wow, those burros weren't shy. Great shots, Pat. Anything related to route 66 has sentimental meaning to me. I was born in 66. When I turned 40, I had a big party with a route 66 theme (cracker jacks, Tab soda...)

    Keep enjoying and sharing your ventures.


  20. there's a whole lot of history in those parts, that's for sure. I love burros. I got a belly laugh from the "told you so" photo. I want that burro. the town has loads of charm. I'm curious about that hotel - wondering what it's like inside.
    thanks for sharing Pat. happy week to you.

  21. Those burros are too funny! That reminds me of the trip I took to Tombstone one time...scenary is quite similar. That town looks like it could easily be a great place to go to for witness protection! Are you sure that is no gold in them thar hills?? Great story in pictures as always, Pat.

  22. One of the things that saddens me about modern Interstate highways - and whatever they call 'em in Canada - is the way they bypass the towns along the way. I find Route 66, with its fading towns straddling the road, such a throwback to a more quaint time when getting there in as little time as possible wasn't the goal.

    Maybe we all need to slow down a bit. I'm glad you did here: This is a place I've always wanted to visit!

  23. wow Route 66, what an adventure!
    I confess I'm envious here!Thanks for sharing your pictures, that cute little friend sleeping in the street is amazing, he is so cute!
    I'm also enchanted by the rocks, this city looks from some movie scenery.The concrete ruins are very interesting!

  24. What a time warped place and a fascinating visit. Yes we even get our kicks on your Route 66 here in the UK where it must be as famous as any British road.

  25. such an interesting place!
    i love those burros; oh, i think one of those looks well fed.

    i absolutely enjoyed your post, pat!
    thanks for sharing your unique adventures.

    terrific shots as usual!!!

  26. Hi. I just wanted to come by and personally thank you for your kind and encouraging comment about my book, Sunday's Child, which you left on Judy's blog.

  27. LOVE the photos of the burros, Pat! Every time I visit your blog, it's like I get to take a mini-vacation. Always fantastic shots of the most interesting places. Thank you!!

  28. Oh yah the burros! They were a hoot and a half when we were there. One of them went for my friends bag she had and had to go chasing after it. Too funny!! We were there in Feb and the place was packed to the gills with tourists. Only bathroom in town had a line so long for the women that we took over the mens just to keep the line moving... did you see the Post Office in Oatman! Charming little place!

  29. Icy BC - They did pull a lot of gold out of the area at one time. I can't imagine being one of the few people who live there. The burros were pretty darn cute!

    Owen - Poking around is exactly what I like to do at these places. Yep, it had a different name at first and then it was renamed after that lady.

    Sharon - If you took the tourists away, there would be only a few folks there. In my opinion, I'd like it better without the tourists. We do have a lot of fun, we're out for two weeks right now.

    Alex - Yup! Get rid of the "Oatman" magnets and the obligatory staged shootouts on main street and there wouldn't really be much to draw folks in. I like the route 66 history of the place. Thanks Alex!

    TexWisGirl - They eat about anything green, so I think they are doing okay. The town gives out and/or sells alfalfa cubes to folks, so they don't feed them junk. There are many more who don't come into town, the ones I saw also looked fine.

    Sylvia - Thanks Sylvia! The burros are just part of the landscape. I don't know too much about the place. But by the time we go back, I will!

    Ms. A - It just might be both! Thanks so much!

    Stephen - He just might have! He was sound asleep.

    Clarissa - I agree with you! Next time I'm going to look for some wild ones also.

  30. Brian - Thanks Brian! Me too!

    Leovi - I agree! They looked very nice. For the most part they were friendly.

    Kay - Yep! Much has changed since those days. Your family took the reverse course the was used during the dust bowl days.

    Al - Ha! That is so true. I didn't see it, but I was told that sometimes the burros will walk into the shops. I'm not sure if the hotel is operating or not. I don't think so.

    Sally - My pleasure! I should have included more histroy though.

    Talei - My pleasure Talei! Maybe you'll see it again someday.

    M Pax - Thanks Mary! It isn't something you see everyday, that's for sure. If we go to a "normal" place, we still try to find something odd and/or interesting.

    Brenda - It sure is a hoot! I love Jerome also. It just stuck me that I never did post anything on Jerome. We've been there a couple of times in the last year or so. I don't think there is enough still standing in Oatman, to ever come close to what Jerome has. Oatman doesn't really have anywhere to get a decent meal either.

    becca - I guess he felt like home. The little white thing on it's head is a sticker that says, "I'm too young for anything but my mom's milk, please don't feed me!"

  31. Robyn - Nope! They were pretty comfortable around people and would just push their way through crowds. I will enjoy and keep sharing! thanks Robyn!

    Ms. Becky - Yes, there sure is. I agree, that little guy was so darn cute! Actually, some of the big guys were pretty cute as well. My pleasure Becky.

    Chuck - Thanks Chuck! Yep, I think it might be a good place to hide out. There may be gold out there somewhere even today! I wish I'd trip over some of it.

    Carmi - Hey there! I totally agree with you. It used to be about the journey and not just getting somewhere as soon as possible. For my wife and I, it's all about the cool and interesting things we find while on the road and at our destination.

    Leia - My pleasure Leia! If the road was dirt it would look JUST like an old western town (which it is). Thanks!

    Chrissy - I agree on both points! I've traveled most of route 66, but it was when I was a kid. I'd like to do it all again now.

    Betty - It sure is! I'm glad you enjoyed it Betty! It's my pleasure.

    Anne Lyken-Garner - You are quite welcome! I think your book is going to be a winner.

    Pam - Hi Pam! If it feels like a vacation, then I'm doing my job! Thanks so much!

    Michelle - They were still a hoot when we were there. I saw a couple of people get their bag snatched and then shaken to make everything fall out. I did see the Post Office and ended up talking to the lady working there. Hope you are doing well...

  32. Even my hubs chucked at the burro crossing sign and him sleeping.
    Thanks Pat, I enjoyed the old rt 66 town tour and now I can check that one off my to-see list.

  33. The animals in town, while common in India is not something I expected in other places.
    An interesting slice of the world, past its due date through your pictures

  34. Thanks for the tour, this looks really interesting - a great mix of adobe and the old west.

  35. This is fun Pat! Love to see the old towns...did not know they pulled a lot of gold out there, our gold ghost towns are mostly gone now. I love to snoop around old places like that.

  36. Pat-- Phenomenal as always--Hey you know what to do with those Burros? Cook them up and turn them into BURRITOS!

    OK OK that was bad!


  37. Oatman! Another place on my list. You are seriously making me crazy now. You guys go to The Best Places! And another super appealing photo essay. The sleeping burro is the cutest and really conveys a sense of the place. It's nice to see all the visitors. Otherwise, the burros might get lonely...

  38. Wild burros!

    Well, I never.


  39. That is my kind of town! I love burros and the idea of them mozying around at their leisure suits me fine.

  40. Wow! Looks like nothingʻs changed in decades! Except for the cars ...

  41. Totally smitten by the burros. Do they still sell their home-grown pottery there? I have a pitcher and four glasses which I cherish.

  42. I saw the Oatman post in another blog and decided to jump over and see what you saw there. It's a neat town that I've been to once before, but I am always a sucker for desert mining towns. The multilevel ruins was probably a processing mill for the ore.

  43. The burros were always my favorite part of Mexico...except when they woke me up at 4:30ish in the morning. Then I wanted to kill them. :)

  44. Pam - My pleasure Pam! I'm glad you both enjoyed it.

    Rek - You are right! We don't see this very much here at all. This place has seen better days, but it's nice that some of still stands.

    Wayne - My pleasure! Another one of those places that exist off the beaten track.

    Island Rambles - Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. Most of ours are gone also, but the ones in the desert seen to hold up the best due to the very dry conditions.

    John - Thanks my friend! That was a funny one John! HeeeHaww!

    Stickup Artist - That is so funny, because your posts do the same to me. I've got some places on my to see list based on your posts. I really appreciate nice words.

  45. Pearl - I never did either! But now I did...

    Tim - HA! At first I read your comment as "...mozying around IN their leisure suits..." They were the most interesting thing in the town to me.

    Blue Wave - I think you are right. Some of the locals there look like they might have been there for decades.

    altadenahiker - They did that to me as well. I didn't see any pottery, but I might have missed it. Or maybe it's because I try to stay out of the shops. My wife tries not to miss them.

    Sage - Thanks so much for coming over and signing on here. I'm also a sucker for those places. Next time I go there (after the summer), I plan on going back there and doing some more digging around. I'm sure there are other interesting things to see in the area.

    Baby Sister - I never saw any while in Mexico. It's been a long time since I've been there though. Do they crow at sunrise?

  46. Burro crossing? That's wild! It looks like a fun place to visit!

  47. Good pictures, looks like a place from another time.

  48. Another entertaining and educational post. Love the burro's pics.

    Pat, your a wonderful tour guide.

  49. Hmmm... something deeply sad about these crumbling towns. I am of two minds about "doing" Route 66. Part of me says yeah, relive this classic Kerouac trip; the other part says, nah, can't go back. Did you know Kerouac was pissed about the TV show Route 66 and his book On the Road has been made into a movie?

  50. WOW!! Another great post Pat! I love these little trips you take us on. Allows me to see a part of the world I may never see.
    Great shots!! I thought the donkey was dead for a moment!

  51. How fun to see all those burros!!! When we were in Estes National Park in Colorado there were elk wandering all through the town...Up here...we have an occasional bear or two!!!

  52. ¸.•°`♥✿⊱╮
    Belas fotos.
    Bom domingo!
    Boa semana!

  53. Carly - Yep! Don't see too many burros around my neighborhood. It was a fun place to visit.

    Leovi - Thanks Leovi! It is from another time.

    Rita - Thanks Rita! It's my pleasure.

    Francisca - I agree about the sadness of it all, but still they hang on. Thanks for links.

    Liz - Thanks Liz! I'm glad you liked it. At first, I also thought there was something wrong with him. He looked like a stuffed animal.

    TheChieftess - I've never been there, but would like to! No bears, elk, or burros where I live, but we do have deer, coyotes, mountain lions and the other usual stuff.

    Magia - Thank Magia! Have a good day!

  54. Neat pictures but burros playing possum in the middle of the street is too much. You find some of the most interesting things.

    Darryl and Ruth :)

  55. This is amazing Pat! Love the burroes...what a great trip that would be. I've never been down there, but I remember the song that mentioned Route's where you get your kicks, right?! lol!

  56. What a great tour! Thanks so much. Love the burros. It reminded me of Yellowstone where a buffalo was walking around downtown.

  57. How cool to see the wild burros! They look pretty tame and very comfortable there. :) Yep, I would NOT want to visit during the summer as 115 is way too hot for me too!

  58. You have a fabulous blog! I’m an author and illustrator and I made some awards to give fellow bloggers whose sites I enjoy. I want to award you with one of my homemade awards: Creative Blog Award. There are no pass along requirements. This is just to reward you for all the hard work you do!

    Go to and pick up your award.

  59. Darryl and Ruth - I totally agree with you about the little burro. I wanted to take him home. Thanks!

    Eve - Thanks Eve! You are right! It's where you get your gets! Not so much these days though. People aren't always attracted to the desert, but it's an amazing place when it's not too hot.

    Belle - Hi Belle! Thanks so much! The burros were the highlight of the trip. No buffalo down here though!

    EG CameraGirl - It was! I'm with you about the heat. Although when I was young, we spent much time in the deserts during the hot period. I didn't have much of a choice, but I survived!

  60. I liked Oatman better than the gambling across the river/state line .

  61. love the photos. your road trips are so inspiring!

  62. Okay now I know you are following me. First Borrego Springs and now Oatman. I spent the day in Oatman on May 5th. :)

    Great shots of a cool town!

  63. Sallie - I'm with you! We did go to Laughlin for a few hours though...

    Sarah - Thanks so much Sarah! Those trips always inspire me to take more!

    James - We were there in March, so you must be following us around!

  64. What a treat! Love the pic of the burrow checking you out shyly.


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