Oatman, AZ

An abandoned Arizona ghost town is now ruled by feral donkeys

Anita Durairaj

The ghost town of Oatman, Arizona is known for its feral donkeys. Oatman was once the largest gold producer in the American West.

Oatman was founded by prospector Johnny Moss who had discovered gold in the region and named the town. Oatman was the place to be during the gold rush boom of 1915 to 1917. Some of the largest mining centers employed people from Oatman and the town grew in population and prosperity.

In 1924, a mining company that was the town's main employer shut down, and by the 1960s, Oatman was abandoned.

When the town became abandoned, all that was left behind were a collection of donkeys and burros. The burros were originally used to haul around goods for the gold mine prospectors. The donkeys were transported to Oatman in the early 1800s and remained there long after the people had left.

Now, Oatman is reported to be ruled by feral donkeys and burros. The animals are the descendants of the original donkeys that were first brought to the town for mining purposes. The town is also populated by about 100 people but as of 2019, there are more burros than people.

Today, the town is a tourist site that is known for its vintage, Wild West appeal. Tourists can experience the wooden sidewalks, kitschy shops, and staged shootouts. There are small museums, a saloon, and a sample mine tunnel.

The feral donkeys are a source of attraction for tourists visiting the town. Visitors are warned not to interact with or harass the animals.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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