Travel Blog

Oatmen Arizona

Oatman is an old mining town on Route 66 on the western side of the mountains between Kingman and Bullhead City in Arizona. It is in the mountains and at one time over 30,000 people called it home, mainly miners, living in tents and shacks they built to survive the winters and the hot summer sun. Today there are about 100 people living in Oatmen, some in  RV’s, some in trailers and others in homes that have been fixed up.

Oatmen ArizonaThey live there along with 100 or so wild burro’s that were let loose when the mining stopped. The minors could not take them with them so they simply let them loose. Today they wander the desert around Oatman and also look for handouts of carrots from the many tourists visiting Oatman.


Where is Oatmen Arizona

Oatman is about 25 miles from the Bullhead City / Laughlin area and there are several ways to get there. We followed our GPS which took us on a gravel road through the desert. There were a few times I almost turned around. I really do not recommend this approach unless you have an old car or a jeep.  My new car and the pot holes in the road, gravel wash board and narrow road made me wonder why I was going to Oatman. You can reach  Route 66 from Bullhead via Mohave City which is just down the road from Bullhead city on route 95. It is paved, winding, and narrow, but much more suited to cars!

Never the less, there are beautiful vistas to look at and when you get to Oatman, sure enough, there are lots of wild burros wandering the street looking for handouts!

There were various sizes of burros and they seemed to be everywhere. There were several babies, which you should not feed, since the carrots could get caught in their throats.! They even wear signs saying do not feed me.

Oatmen Arizona Bars

There is a local bar / restaurant in Oatmen. Everyone should visit this place even if it is just to take a look. You might stay and have a beer and something to eat as well. There is something really unique about this place that pulls tourists from far and wide.

The miners would spend there hard earned money in the local bars. Many were afraid they would loose their money so they started a custom were they would pin their money to the wall. When they had used up their funds from either drinking or food, the bartender would remove the money from the wall. This custom has extended to today. However now tourists will pin a dollar bill to the wall and write their names on the dollar.

We asked the waitress how much money was pinned to the wall and she estimated at least $65,000! Money is everywhere, on the walls, the ceiling, behind the bar even on the doors. The restaurant was basically a burger place, licensed, a place to visit once.

Of course they had to stage a local gun fight in the middle of the street. Interesting to watch with a few jokes thrown in. This is part of route 66 and part of the history of the western part of the US!

Oatman Button Lady

While in one of the casinos in Laughlin, the Aquarius, we met a couple who still had a relative in Oatman. The women’s mother still lives there and is known as the button lady. We never met her, but maybe we will look her up next time we go through there.

We will write more stories about our travels and route 66 on future posts. They are interesting. You really see the hardships that some of the settler and minors experienced trying to get rich or make their way to California.

If you have a special story about Oatmen, why not leave a comment for our readers. They will enjoy it.


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