Oatman ... elevation of 2,700 ft., once a metropolis of some 10,000 people, Oatman was reduced in the 1950s to a population of about 60 after it was bypassed by the rerouted U.S. 66. Now the number is up to a few hundred, with many residents making living selling items to tourists. They are hardy bunches who look upon visitors with a hit of a defiant eye, knowing their dollars are necessary for their livelihood, but wishing they weren't.
Towering above the town of Oatman is a monolith known as Elephant's Tooth, a huge quartz outcropping that served as a signpost to prospectors, saying "look for gold right here." The original name of the town was Vivian, for the Vivian Mine discovered in 1902 by a half-breed Mohave named Ben Taddock (or Paddock, depending upon the source), who supposedly found gold glittering along a trail. Taddock sold his claim a year later to a judge and a colonel, who in turn sold it in 1905 to the Vivian Mining Company, which fully developed the claim. By 1907, more than $3 million in gold had been extracted from the mine.
Vivian experienced a second boom in 1908 with the discovery of the Tom Reed Gold Mine. That year the town was renamed Oatman, a change the post office made official a year later. The new name honored Olive Oatman, a white girl who lived with a local Mohave Indian family for five years. Her safe return made the Oarman family's story famous throughout the West.
Chloride ... was one of the earliest mining camps in the Arizona Territory. Named for silver chloride ore, the town grew from the Silver Hill strike of the 1860s.
Reaching the isolated Silver Hill mines required taking a river steamboat 300 miles upstream from Yuma to Hardyville (now underwater near Bullhead City), and then crossing 38 miles of unforgiving desert. It could be dangerous territory.
In 1863, Hualapai Indians commandeered some miners' guns, shooting one and killing two more by throwing rocks down their mine shaft. Undaunted by word of these occupational hazards, fortune seekers continued to come. Chloride became a full-fledged town in 1864 and received its post office nine years later. By 1900, the town had a population of 2,000. Its two major mines, the Tennessee and the Schuylkill, produced gold, silver, lead, and zinc on a major scale into the late 1940s.
When the mines closed, the population declined, but the post office remained. Chloride has since seen a modest influx of people, primarily retirees, raising its population to about 350. The town's main street features the post office and well-preserved false-front general store, which was built during 1928. North of the main street stand two original buildings, the jail and the Lorig residence. The mines are closed to the public.
Mineral Park ... founded in 1871, was so named because of the rich cache of minerals in a parklike, juniper-filled basin at the foot of Ithaca Peak. It became the county seat in 1873, raking the title from nearby Cerbat. By the early 1880s Mineral Park not only featured paying mines but also served as a supply point for distant mines and a growing number of cattle ranches. It had all the usual mining camp ingredients: assay offices, a five-stamp mill, saloons, stores, and a post office. But it also had the trappings of a sophisticated town: restaurants, a hotel, doctors and lawyers, two stagecoach stations, and a weekly news¬paper, The Mohave County Miner.
One reason prosperity shone so brightly was the completion in 1883 of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad just 20 miles to the south, which cut the cost of transporting ore and supplies. That same railroad, however, brought civic embarrassment to Mineral Park. The rail-stop town of Kingman grew so much faster than Mineral Park that by 1887 it had enough residents to claim the county seat. Despite a conclusive county-wide vote on the matter, Mineral Park officials refused to give up the county records. Outraged Kingman citizens subsequently raided Mineral Park, made off with the documents and, quite literally, took the county seat.