Somewhere in Arizona along a generally forgotten stretch of old Route 66 is a cluster of buildings barely stitched together by a post office, restaurant, and a hotel to form the tiny town of Oatman.
Founded in 1906, Oatman was once a bustling community of 3,500 hardy and fool-hardy souls that ultimately extracted nearly two million ounces of gold from the nearby hills. At the current price of gold, that’s about $3.4 billion dollars in today’s market.
But like all good things, the gold ran out a few decades later, mining stopped in 1947, and the town was largely abandoned in the 1950s after the new Interstate-40 highway bypassed the town entirely in 1953. Left behind were a few locals and the burros, which were unleashed into the wild after no longer needed to pack the miner’s supplies.
Today, descendants of both the original locals and burros roam the streets extracting bounty from the tourists who travel through on Route 66 or drive up from Lake Havasu for a visit.