Just across the
River and up the hill from Laughlin,
is the historic town of Oatman,
Arizona. Often described as a
town, it doesn’t quite fit the category, but close enough,
considering that it once boasted almost 4,000 people and now supports
just a little over 100 people year-round.
Though Oatman is
only a shadow of its former self, it is well worth a visit to this
town” that provides, not only a number of historic buildings and
photograph opportunities, but the sights of burros walking the
streets, as well as costumed gunfighters and 1890s style ladies
In its heyday, from the
early 1900s to the 1940s, Oatman
and the nearby town of
were the largest producers of gold in
was first discovered in Oatman in 1902 by a man named Ben Taddock who,
while riding along the trail, saw free gold glittering on the ground
and immediately filed a claim. A tent city soon sprang up as
other miners heard of the gold find and flocked to the area.
Hotel was built in 1902, which did a brisk business to the area
miners. This old hotel, now called the
Hotel, is still in operation today.
Lacking the funds to develop a mine, Ben Taddock sold his claim in
1903 to Judge E.M. Ross and Colonel Thomas Eqing, who in turn sold it
to the Vivian Mining Company. The mining camp was named Vivian and in
1904 the first post office was established for the growing population.
Between 1904 and 1907 the mine yielded over $3,000,000.
In 1909 the town changed
its name in honor, Olive Oatman, who was kidnapped as a young girl by
Apaches after they had massacred her family. The Apaches then sold
her to the Mojave Indians, whom she lived with for five years. Olive was
rescued in 1857 near the site of the town.
The settlement began to fall on hard times until another rich vein was discovered by Ely Hilty, Joe Anderson and Daniel Tooker. In no time at all,
Oatman was in the midst of a second boom
when The Tom Reed Mine was established in 1910. The new Tom Reed
Mine breathed life into the town, just as the Vivian Mine was about to