Powerhouse Visitor Center
The Powerhouse Visitor Center on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona, is on the National Register of Historic places. The elevation here is 3,333.33 feet above sea level. It served as the Desert Power and Water Company from 1907 to 1911. During this time, it was among the largest steam generating plants of its time on the Pacific Coast.
The Powerhouse is built of reinforced concrete. Electricity generation began 90 years ago with operations continuing to 1938. In 1997, after serving as a substation and later as a recycling center, the “Powerhouse Gang” renovated it to its current use and condition.
A Day Visit to Oatman, Arizona
Oatman, Arizona, is on historic Route 66 only 28.5 miles from the Kingman Powerhouse Visitor Center. This is a very quaint, interesting, western, ghost (or not) town. We had visited it in June of 1994 on our way to attend the National Square Dance Convention in Portland, Oregon, but had entered coming from the other direction. The burro population continues to attract visitors.
According to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oatman,_Arizona:
1) Oatman was named in the posthumous honor of Olive Oatman, a young Illinois girl. She had been taken captive by (presumably) Yavapai Indians and forced to work as a slave. Later, she was traded to Mohave Indians who adopted her as a daughter and had her face tattooed in the custom of the tribe. In 1855, she was released near the current location of the town.
2) Oatman is a town of 128 people as per the 2000 census. It was not much of a town until two old prospectors found gold in 1915. After these two prospectors found a ten million dollar gold find, it began as a tent camp and in the course of a year, its population grew to 3500 people at its peak.
Exploring along Route 66
We crossed paths with our former real estate appraiser (now retired) and his wife, whom I had greeted many times at the door when I was a Walmart Greeter. They were in a campground not far from where we were, and we had the pleasure of visiting back and forth. Sometimes we would meet for tacos, a coke, or go out to eat. We had the good fortune of their inviting us to go along on some day trips. Thanks to them and their nice 4WD Ram 1500 pickup, we got to see some beautiful country. We could not have taken our van to some of the areas we got to visit with them.
This was a delightful day to travel Route 66. We had so much fun today! With their vehicle, it was easy to pull off road. They are avid rock hounds and wanted to search for collectible rocks, one type being the red “fire” agates. While traveling through the Black Mountains, we made frequent stops, taking photos, and searching for unique rocks. During our exploration, it was also important to be on the watch for rattlesnakes, and any other critters that could present a danger to us.
Burros roamed wild in the desert. Thanks to Jean’s camera with the 50X zoom, John caught the burros in the viewfinder. The zoom on my camera was not powerful enough to zoom in and find them in the desert landscape.
Many variety of cacti, including Cholla (pronounced choy-a), Yucca in bloom, Ocotillo (pronounced Oco-tee-o), and Prickly Pear in bloom were around us.
For anyone interested in geology, it is interesting to note that a cone-shaped mountain top is usually a sign of an inactive volcano. In the video below you will see one behind Cool Springs, and its cone shape is also evident in the distance in other photos.
At mile 33 we stopped at Cool Springs Museum and Gift Shop, which was not open at the time. It has a restored 1926 Mobil gas station, and is one of the sites in the movie, Universal Soldier, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolf Lundgren and Ally Walker. It was closed because they are looking for a new caretaker, proprietor, new owner, museum curator, or whatever hat he is willing to wear. After Cool Springs, there were no other shops until we got to Oatman.
Beautiful rock formations of sandstone, pretty flowers, and bushes with blue berries were all great subjects for photos. In one photo, I snapped a photo of a motorcycle against the landscape as he rounded a curve with mountains in the background and where stone was placed from the top of a culvert all the way up to the road surface.
Sandstone cliffs, mountains and mountain curves also added to the beauty of the drive. After passing through Sitgreaves Pass where the elevation sign said 3550 feet, we had hairpin-like curves and roads that wound around the mountains affording us very picturesque views. The road was often narrow and had little or no guard rails as it wound up and down and around scenic mountain views.
Mines are still in the area, many not easily seen, some closed for possible future use or caved in. Any that are still active are not known to be producing anything significant. Along our road, however, there was an old mining shaft that had long since caved in and was closed. I took a few photos of the inside as far as the camera could see.
Memorials could be seen from a distance along the drive. We did not see any graves. At one place where we stopped we saw memorials, probably placed there by family or friends of people whose ashes had been scattered there.
Oatman has an elevation of 2,710 feet. It is a western, gold mining town, where burros now roam the streets. The burros that freely roam the town are said to be descendants of donkeys turned loose by early prospectors. They are wild and will kick and bite. Burro chow, also known as hay cubes, is available from most of the stores for feeding the burros. Signs warn visitors to keep the burros off the sidewalk. If they get on the sidewalk, they like to stick their head into the shops, making it difficult for customers to get through the door.
There were two restaurants in town. We chose the one next to the Oatman hotel. Lunch was finished just in time to step outside and watch the daily gunfight in the street, where the sheriff was in the process of apprehending some bank robbers.
The old Oatman Hotel was built in 1902. According to Wikipedia, it is the oldest two-story adobe structure in Mohave County, now a historical landmark. A visit to Oatman would not be complete without visiting the upstairs suite where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon. It is one of the hotel’s historical attractions. The other is “Oatie” the ghost, promoted by the hotel’s owner. Oatie, thought to be William Ray Flour, an Irish miner, is a friendly poltergeist, who presumably died of alcohol consumption. His body was found behind the hotel two days later, and he was hastily buried in a shallow grave where he was found
As we were returning to Kingman, we caught a glimpse of the afternoon train riding the rails. Rather than insert a lot of individual photos into this post, here is a video of photos taken as we explored this section of Historic Route 66.
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