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 Rush hour in Oatman.  6-02
Clickable map.  In 1926 a thriving Oatman had sufficient clout to get Route 66 to pass through the mining community.  Route 66 was realigned along the Yucca bypass in 1952, taking the same route that the Santa Fe Railroad had chosen half a century earlier and Interstate 40 would follow later.

Rush hour in Oatman. For a ghost town, Oatman has a tremendous amount of traffic.  From 1900 to 1930, the mines around Oatman produced more than thirty million dollars in gold.  Today the only gold being extracted comes from the tourist that line the street.

Besides vintage buildings and mining artifacts, tourists can visit the Oatman Hotel where Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned in 1939, and feed the numerous wild burros that drop for the treats the tourists buy from the rows of shops.

Gold!  Town lore has it that prospector Ben Taddock was riding along a trail near the present site of Oatman in 1902 when he spotted something sparkling in the sun.  That something turned out to be gold.  Ben was not as lucky as he could have been.  He lacked the funds to develop the strike so he eventually sold out.  The property was traded several more times until the Vivian Mining Company set up operations.

Another group of claims were consolidated into the Tom Reed Gold Mine which began sustained production in 1909.  That year also saw the establishment of the Oatman Post Office.

The wild burros populate the streets of Oatman are not shy when it comes to the possibility of a snack. 1-04.

The area's geography baffled miners until 1913 when engineers figured it out and the United Eastern Mine was opened.  It produced almost $15 million between 1917 and 1924.

Route 66 comes to Oatman.  When the alignment for Route 66 was being debated, Oatman was producing plenty of gold, and gold spoke loudly.  It told the road's designers to take Route 66 over the treacherous pass through the Black Mountains and through the financial powerhouse of Mojave county.  Proponents of the flatter and straighter alignment going south of the Black Mountains through Yucca that the Santa Fe railroad had chosen lacked the necessary financial backing.

A book from amazon.com
cover
The Captivity of the Oatman Girls Among the Apache and Mohave Indians by Lorenzo D. and Olive A. Oatman

Indian massacre and kidnapping!  It is widely reported that Oatman was named after Olive Oatman, a thirteen year old girl that had been taken captive when Indians massacred her family in 1851.  Some reports say that Olive was eventually released not far from the Oatman township.

On February 18, 1851, 41 year old Royce Oatman was traveling across what was then the New Mexico territory with his wife Mary Ann and their seven children.  Royce had a mercantile business in Chicago but it failed in 1842 during an economic downturn.  He tried farming for a while, but decided to head to the southwest for the climate after he was injured assisting a neighbor drill a well.

The Oatman family joined a wagon train in 1850, but with some other families split from it around Santa Fe to take a more southerly route.  That group arrived in Maricopa Wells in February, 1851.  There they were warned that the Indians ahead were very bad and they would risk their lives if they went farther.  The other families decided not to go on, but the Oatmans headed out on their own.

On their fourth day out, a group of Indians approached them, asking for tobacco, food and other items.  The Indians then attacked the family, killing all but three children of the family.  The Oatman's fifteen year old son, Lorenzo, was clubbed and left for dead.  Thirteen year old Olive, and seven year old Mary Ann were taken captive.

Olive and Mary Ann were held by the Yavapai Indians where Olive later reported that they were treated like slaves.  About a year after the capture, the Yavapais traded the girls to the Mohave Indians.  They were taken on a forced march north to the Mohave Valley on the Colorado river.  The Mohaves were reported to have treated the girls kindly, and they were given tribal tattoos.  Famine struck the Mohaves and Mary Ann, who had been frail, died in 1853.

It is no wonder that Route 66 was re-aligned to avoid the treacherous pass through the Black Mountains when Oatman's influence ebbed.  An example of how the old route came by its nickname "Bloody 66" can be found between Oatman and Sitgreaves Pass. 1-04.

Olive was held captive for another 3 years until largely through Lorenzo's efforts, her release was negotiated.  The Army paid a ransom of six pounds of white beads, four blankets, various trinkets and a white horse to obtain Olive's release.

A few years after release, Olive moved back east where she went on the lecture circuit.  She married former Indian fighter Major John Fairchild.  The couple eventually settled in Sherman, Texas where the Major became a banker.  They lived in Sherman for about 30 years until their deaths.


Books, video & audio from amazon.com
cover
Route 66 Across Arizona
A Comprehensive Two-Way Guide for Touring Route 66
by Richard and Sherry Mangum
cover
Route 66 Chronicles
Volume I
Shadows of the Past Over Route 66 Arizona - New Mexico
by Gerald M. Knowles
cover
Here It Is!
The Route 66 Map Series
A complete set of foldout maps!
cover
Route 66: Return to the Road with Martin Milner
DVD--156 minutes along the Mother Road!
cover
Songs of Route 66: All-American Highway
Route 66 TV Theme, Get Your Kicks on Route 66--Bobby Troup, What's Left of 66--Jason Eklund, Don't Haul Bricks on 66--Dusty Chaps ...
Click here for more cool Route 66 stuff!

Books, video & audio from amazon.com
cover
Route 66 Across Arizona
A Comprehensive Two-Way Guide for Touring Route 66
by Richard and Sherry Mangum
cover
Route 66 Chronicles
Volume I
Shadows of the Past Over Route 66 Arizona - New Mexico
by Gerald M. Knowles
cover
Here It Is!
The Route 66 Map Series
A complete set of foldout maps!
cover
Route 66: Return to the Road with Martin Milner
DVD--156 minutes along the Mother Road!
cover
Songs of Route 66: All-American Highway
Route 66 TV Theme, Get Your Kicks on Route 66--Bobby Troup, What's Left of 66--Jason Eklund, Don't Haul Bricks on 66--Dusty Chaps ...
Click here for more cool Route 66 stuff!

To Golden Shores To AZ Route 66 Home To Sitgreaves Pass

Route 66 Sources Copyright 2003-2006 by aroundaz.com This page was last revised on 08/18/06.