I get my ‘kicks’ on route 66! Who could forget the song?
I guess most of us have a favorite getaway, mine just happiness to be Oatman AZ. I discovered it quite by accident on my way back from visiting London Bridge at Lake Havasu. On the off chance that you haven’t heard of London Bridge this is the actual bridge that spanned the River Thames; that anyone who had visited London England pre 1967 might very well have walked across to get to Waterloo Station in the city of London.
In 1967 the bridge was dismantled by the London Council and sold to one Robert P. McCulloch. He proceeded to number all the granite blocks and had them shipped to Lake Havasu, in Arizona. The bridge was completed in 1971 and a flourishing tourist industry grew around it. As many of my overseas visitors are from UK, London Bridge is high on my attractions list. From Las Vegas it is about a two hour drive through Laughlin, along the Colorado River, and eventually into Lake Havasu. On my first visit I noticed a sign that pointed to “Route 66” as we drove down I.40. The sign said “To Oatman”
A quick check of my map revealed that route 66 led to Kingman AZ via Oatman, and a route back to Las Vegas that took us over the Hover Dam! What a great discovery it proved to be and now forms the major part of our day trip to Lake Havasu and London Bridge.
The road to Oatman is an adventure in itself, winding as it does through a wash that is impassable for several weeks of the year.
‘Route 66’ historic signs pepper the route winding up into the Arizona Mountains and the old Gold Mining town of Oatman. A mile or so before you reach this remarkable window to the past you will be greeted by wandering burros in search of tourists with snacks to share.
The center piece of the town is the Oatman Hotel, made famous by its two most notorious visitors Clark Gable and his bride Carol Lombard following their marriage in Kingman Az on March 18th, 1939. Few knew of Clark’s passion for a game of Poker and he found a ready school amongst the miners of Oatman.
He returned often to satisfy his craving for the game. The hotel has preserved their honeymoon suite and along with the resident ghost,”Oatie” is the major tourist attraction. “Oatie” is said to be the returning poltergeist of William (Bill) Ray Flour, an Irish miner from County Wicklow, who is believed to have drunk himself to death.
Today ‘Oatman’ is a ‘bikers’ heaven. If you own a Harley or any other motorcycle for that matter, you will find every t-shirt imaginable. The ‘old west’ comes alive with a gun fight on the high street twice daily. At the time of writing daily tours of the still active gold mine are available.
Take the time to view the pictures I took and if you get the chance to visit Oatman, you may very well run into ME! By the way don’t miss the Funnel Cake they make at the Oatman Hotel, and if you can – try counting the dollar bills that paper the walls!
Enjoy your travels.
Dr. Peter J. Shield PhD (http://vegasmysteries.com)