Just west of
Kingman, Arizona, charming old Route 66 climbs into the Black Mountains,
becoming a winding, treacherous, nerve-wracking drive with no guardrails (just
the occasional protective cable) and plenty of hairpin turns.
station ruins and skeleton cars in the parched moonscape hills, motorists still
white-knuckle the wheel for about 10 miles until the road gently empties down
in the town of Oatman.
The Oatman Hotel, where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard famously honeymooned in 1939 still stands, along with a number of other historic structures.
(population about 150) thrived back in the early 1900s thanks to all the gold
in them thar hills. But once the mines tapped out, the town almost went with
streets today though, clearly, something helped saved it.
A plaque in the
center of town explains: “Oatman was founded around 1906 as part of Arizona’s
richest gold mining area. Oatman was reborn in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s
as a tourist town. The main attraction was the wild burro herd. The burros
roaming the Oatman area are descendants of the burros from the mining ventures
of earlier times.
If it were not
for these burros in all probability, neither you nor this plaque would be
standing here today. People from all over the world come to visit, feed, and
take pictures of the burros.”
warn that the animals might bite and kick but on this lazy summer day they seem
content to peacefully do what they do: munch carrots, tie up traffic and
provide photos ops for tourists who snap way like paparazzi on the red carpet
Such is life for
a bunch of four-legged saviors who come and go with the sun.