I have wanted to go to Oatman ever since I first read about the burros that wander through the town. I also haven’t done a history lesson in a long time so here goes.
After a few other names, Oatman was named in honor of Olive Oatman, a young Illinois girl who was kidnapped by Yavapai Indians and forced to work as a slave. She was later traded to Mohave Indians who adopted her as a daughter and had her face tattooed in the custom of the tribe. She was released in 1855 near the current site of the town.
Oatman was luckier than many small mining towns because it was located on Route 66 and was able to cater to travelers driving between Kingman, AZ and Needles, CA. Even that advantage was short-lived as the town was completely bypassed in 1953 when a new route between Kingman and Needles was built. By the 1960’s, Oatman was almost a ghost town.
Oatman has made a comeback thanks to a growing interest in Route 66. Wild burros freely roam the town and can be hand-fed carrots. The burros are descended from pack animals turned loose by early prospectors, and are protected by the US Department of the Interior.
Feeding the burros was definitely high on my list of things to do. I wasn’t a shopper in my previous life and I’m even less of one now that we live in a motor home. So wandering through all the tourist shops was not for me.
We were greeted on the outskirts of Oatman by this handsome fellow. We slowed down and he immediately headed to Jim’s window. They certainly aren’t bashful about letting you know they are there to be fed. Thank goodness we stocked up on a big bag of carrots at Walmart.
We only saw three burros. I thought there would be more but not this day. The second one was in town plying the streets looking for carrots. I know these are wild animals and I’m sure they could bite your hand really hard, but they were very gentle as long as the above mentioned hand had a carrot in it.
We drove through town and decided not to stop. As we headed back out of town, we saw our third burro. This one looked like it had been in a fight, lots of missing pieces of fur on its back. And it was really skittish. Absolutely would not come up to the car to get the carrots.
A wonderful way to spend a morning. Feeding burros. I would definitely go visit them again.