Mar 062011
 



A former mining boomtown, Oatman, Ariz., enjoys life today as a popular tourist destination located near the Colorado River casinos and resorts at Laughlin. At least a half a million people a year seek out Oatman’s authentic Old West atmosphere bolstered by noisily entertaining gunfights, special events and charming wild burros working the crowds for treats.

Visitors from Las Vegas take U.S. 95 south and Highway 163 to reach the Laughlin-Bullhead City area 90 miles south of Las Vegas. Oatman sits astride Historic Route 66, about 30 minutes’ drive from the river. From Laughlin, visitors choose either an all-paved route or a shorter, partially paved back road to the ghost town.

For the paved route, follow this highway about 15 miles to Boundary Cone Road, turn left and head east about 12 miles to Old Route 66. Turn left and drive north about two miles to Oatman.

About a half-mile before you reach the town, note the sign for the Oatman Stables. Many visitors to Oatman include a guided horseback ride through the surrounding desert or a stagecoach ride through town. Horseback adventures cost $25 for a half-hour, $35 for an hour and $60 for two hours. Reserve your ride by calling the stable at (928) 788-1764 or online at www.oatmanstables.com.

A few mountains and parts of Oatman itself seem familiar to fans of Western movies, for the boomtown served as a film location, notably for the end scenes of the epic Western “How the West Was Won.”

Oatman began as a tent town around mines developed after the discovery of gold in 1902. At first called Vivian after its principal mining company, the new town changed its name in 1909 to Oatman, after Olive Oatman, a survivor of a Yavapai Apache massacre of an immigrant family in Central Arizona in the early 1850s. Traded to Mohave Indians, Olive Oatman spent five years living along the Colorado until her rescue in 1857. By then, she bore tribal tattoos upon her face.

Look for information about Olive Oatman at the Oatman Hotel, one of the town’s original buildings, a two-story adobe structure built in 1902. The hotel became a favorite with travelers on Route 66, the Mother Road from middle America to the Pacific coast laid out in the 1920s. The hotel gained fame when movie stars Clark Gable and Carole Lombard stopped overnight after their March 1939 marriage in Kingman.

The hotel survived a fire in the early 1920s that swept away many of Oatman’s early buildings. Once one of Arizona’s top gold producers, Oatman took a hit in 1924 when its biggest mine closed. In 1941, the federal government mandated that miners turn to mining materials essential to the war effort. Oatman dwindled but still could rely on traffic along U.S. 66. In 1952, interstate traffic was diverted from U.S. 66. Oatman’s population soon dropped to about 60 residents.

Most thought the town was dead, but Oatman re-created itself. Building upon its proximity to Laughlin and later on the popularity of Historic Route 66 as a nostalgia highway, it became a tourist destination. Today, about 40 shops, cafes and bars line Oatman’s main street, part of Historic Route 66. Tourists throng the town’s eateries, crowd to imbibe bar beverages, wait in line to indulge in ice cream and gather to take pictures of the burros, descendants of old-time pack animals.

Most businesses stock carrots or pellets for the burros. About a dozen burros come in from the desert to hang out downtown, sometimes with spring foals at their sides. Traffic stops, for the burros have the right-of-way. The burros hardly notice when the Ghost Riders gunfighters stage their street confrontations at 1:30 and 3:30 each afternoon.

The creatures remain immensely popular with Oatman’s tourists, which long ago replaced gold as Oatman’s lifeblood.

Copyright © Stephens Media LLC 1997 – 2011

Jan 252011
 

Construction began in June of 2010. The Route 66 FUTS Trail remains open during construction.

This project involves the preservation of a 700-foot long stretch of historic Route 66 on the Route 66 FUTS Trail, east of Fanning Drive and west of the Route 66 underpass. In addition to preserving the road and adding interpretive elements, the project will beautify the area with landscaping and add a rest stop to the FUTS trail that uses the old circa 1937 road bed as a part of the trail system. The project is funded by Bed, Board, and Beverage Tax revenues.

To view conceptual plans for the rest stop, please click on the following documents:
Route 66 Conceptual Design Document
Route 66 Rest Stop and Landscape Plans

Jan 072011
 

Many folks know about the ‘Standing on the Corner’ park, and some folks don’t!

Heading west on Route 66 – you would have to go down Third Street for a bit and then turn around (left) and go to Second Street and head back east.

The GIANT Route 66 logo in the middle of the intersection would be a dead giveaway you are here!

This is a very active intersection in Winslow when it comes to Route 66.
On the NW corner is the ‘Standing on the Corner’ park, complete with a statue you can take a picture with, a mural on the wall showing a ‘blonde haired girl in a flat bed Ford…’ and parked on the street – is a red flat bed Ford!
On the NE corner is the On the Corner – Route 66 Gift Shop. Stop in!!! Lots of tourists browsing and buying gifts and the owners are woderful people who know a lot about Route 66 history in Winslow.
On the SW corner is an old bank which is slated to be rehabbed into an actual working Soda Shop with the old pull type fountains!

Winslow is a great little stop for Route 66 travelers.

Dec 272010
 

Seeing I was by myself for Christmas this year (insert violins here!) I decided to get off the couch and hit the road on the 25th and 26th of Dec.
I drove to Needles CA and headed east! (wrong way!).

I made it to Seligman AZ about 6pm and decided to stop (I try not to drive Route 66 at night because I actually might miss something in the dark!!). I pulled up to the Aztec Motel and rang the doorbell. A charming lady named Marie answered the door and I asked if there were any rooms available (I knew there were!) and she said ‘yes’. Now – I had to be a smart guy and ask if they had Wi-Fi! She said ‘no – sorry’ with a look of heart-break in her eyes! I asked if there were any other hotels/motels in town that did. She pointed and said ‘maybe so and so does’. Then to add insult to injury, I asked if there was a place to eat. She said ‘It’s Christmas honey – everything is closed’.

So, here I was, without Wi-Fi and food an she chimes in ‘but I can make you a turkey sandwich…’
DEAL!!
She sealed the deal and next thing you know – I am giving her my card to reserve a room.

The rooms at the newly renovated Aztec Motel were nice. I had no complains at all! The bed was comfortable and the bedspread reminded me of what my grandmother would have gave me to sleep with – so it made it just that much better!
She knocked on my door and had a tray filled with toasted turkey sanwiches, potato chips, a cookie, and some chocolate. I was in heaven! (She also told me not to mention that she made me a sandwich because EVERYONE will want her to make them a sandwich!! So ignore what you just read!).

The bathrooms were clean and each room has its own satellite receiver. It was quiet and I slept well!

Outside on the walls were several murals that were nicely done!
Around the outer area there were tables and chairs and I can imagine all the travelers sitting outside in the summertime conversing about where they have been, what they have seen, and where they are going to.

So next time you are in Seligman, stop in and say ‘hi’ to Marie, stay if you can ($45 was a deal in my opinion) or buy a little Route 66 gift from the gift store.

Aztec Motel & Gift Shop
Dwight & Marie Forquer (Owners)
312 E. Historical Route 66
Seligman, AZ 86337
928.422.3055

Side note – Marie said she is getting up there in age and her husband has cancer, so he stays home most days while she runs the shop. SO – she said she would be willing to SELL the motel. Her asking price is $225,000. For more information – give her a call!

Apr 302010
 

I found this video while searching for restoration project throughout Route 66 – and I found this video interesting.
This is Historical America fading away and I am a fan of preserving as much as I can of a ‘simpler time’.

I will be contacing the Arizona Route 66 Association to see what can be done from the outside.

Abandoned Arizona – Route 66 from Kyle Anderson on Vimeo.