Wild burros, or Spanish donkeys, still roam the streets in Oatman, Arizona, and the residents wouldn't have it any other way. Located across the Colorado River and up the hill from Laughlin, Nevada, Oatman is an authentic western ghost town and mining camp founded in the early 1900s after prospectors struck gold.
Though Oatman's current population of 150 is a far cry from the nearly 4,000 who once called it home, it has remained prosperous, and its residents take pride in keeping the town as authentic as possible.
Oatman's wild burros and gunshots at high noon are the biggest draw for the nearly 500,000 tourists who visit each year.
The Wild West–style shoot-outs that are performed daily take place in the heart of Main Street. Visitors are treated to a show that begins by the unmistakable sound of a double-barrel shotgun.
Another unmistakable tradition in Oatman is the annual sidewalk egg fry. Every Fourth of July at noon, the entire town gathers on Main Street for the unconventional cooking contest. Contestants have 15 minutes to fry the best breakfast using just two eggs and a piece of tinfoil. They can use any type of solar heat, mirror, or magnifying glass, but with summer temperatures often reaching well above 100 degrees, the pavement often does the trick, heating up just like an oven.
Despite the hundreds of thousands who visit Oatman each year, residents say they live very laid-back lives. "The stores open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m., and if you're out after 5, we [might] run your toes over in the road," says Jerry Love, who has lived in Oatman for 21 years.
Love doesn't think Oatman is a tourist trap, but rather a place for folks to step back into history and learn about the richness of the land. "What you see is what you get," Love says. "And we are damn proud of it."
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