In 1851, the Oatman family embarked on a long journey to California to find a better life. When they entered the Arizona Territory, the Oatmans and other members of their party met with all kinds of difficulties. After their supplies were about exhausted, some in the group decided to stay in Tucson, but the Oatmans and a couple other families decided to push on.
Here is a link to a post I did about the massacre.
In the late 1800’s, in the Black Mountains of Mohave County, Arizona, and near where the current town of Oatman is located, Olive Oatman was rescued from the Mohave Indians who acquired her in a trade from the Apache. In honor or this brave girl, the town was named after her. The town started as a small mining camp with a few tents scattered about. In 1915, two miners struck it rich with a gold vein worth around 10 million dollars. Within a year, the word got out and Oatman’s population hit over 3,500 people.
In 1921, the town met with disaster and most of the town’s buildings were destroyed by fire. Luckily the Oatman Hotel survived the fire’s rage, but the majority of the town was gone. Three years later in 1924, the United Eastern Mines and the town’s major employer, shut down the mine for good. By 1941, because other cheaper metals were used for the war materials, the U.S. Government had the rest of Oatman’s mines cease all operations.
With the entire settlement’s mine closed you would think this would be the end for Oatman. It was Oatman’s location along Route 66 kept the travelers passing through the town. Oatman enjoyed the traffic and visitors, but in 1953 a new highway was constructed and the entire town was bypassed. By the 1960’s, Oatman was almost empty and looking much like a ghost town.
Today, because of its history and the growth of nearby Laughlin, Nevada, Oatman has been revived and visited by many tourists. Roaming around the streets of the town are wild burros that are rumored to be descendants from the pack animals let go by early prospectors. These burros are protected by the U.S. Department of the Interior. People are told to be cautious around the donkeys because they are wild and who knows what they might do if provoked. Weekends in Oatman, visitors are entertained by Wild West shootouts, and many other celebrations. The town celebrates the Route 66 location with “Route 66” signs all over the place and souvenirs for the tourists. One of the things you will notice while visiting the Oatman Hotel is all the one-dollar bills on the walls and ceiling of the bar and restaurant. The say there is thousands of dollars adorning the inside of the hotel.
The Oatman Hotel is famous for many things from who used to lay their hats there to the claims of ghosts roaming around the building. The hotel was built in 1902 and is the oldest two-story adobe structure in town and all of Mohave County. Many miners, politicians, lawmen, outlaws, and movie stars stayed in the lavish rooms. After being married in Kingman on March 18, 1939, Clark Gable and Carol Lombard honeymooned at the Oatman Hotel. The remoteness of the place was one of the reasons Gable kept coming back to the hotel. He also enjoyed playing poker with the miners. Today, visitors and staff have heard laughing and whispering coming from the unoccupied room the two stayed in. One claim is when a photographer took a picture of the empty room, an apparition of a man appeared in one of the photos. Other ghost seen in the hotel is that of an Irish miner named William Ray Flour. The story is told that his entire family died on the way to American and he was so upset that he began drinking heavily. He ended up drinking himself to death, died behind the hotel, and his body was found two days later. The staff just buried him in a shallow grave right where he died. His ghost has been seen in his old room and the hotel staff has named him “Oatie”. Oatie likes to play pranks such as opening windows and pulling off sheets in his old room. People have reported hearing a bagpipe sound coming from his former room as well as feeling a cold spot with it is very hot outside.
The hotel seems to have lots of other playful spirits in many of its rooms. The bar had reports of money being lifted off the bar as well as glasses floating in air. Witness have claims of lights turning on and off by themselves, the sounds of creepy disembodied voices, toilets flushing in empty bathrooms, and footprints which appear on recently cleaned floors. The Oatman Hotel no longer takes in guests but still serves as a museum, restaurant, gift shop, and much more.