Old Mining Towns Welcome the Curious

Among the buildings in the Nelson, Nevada pretend–ghost town is this barn. A nearby general store sells sodas, candy and souvenirs of the visit.
Photo by Diane Taylor

In the past month, my gentleman friend and I have visited three former mining towns. Every one was only a couple hours away from home and offered scenic drives. Every one of them also offered free restrooms (hooray!) and nice folks. In addition, every one of them looked like an episode of “Hoarder”–lots of old stuff stacked everywhere. Walls, counters and sometimes even ceilings were dusty, rusty and full of “antiques”. Let’s just say that visiting historic mining towns is not like a trip to pristine Disneyland.

And yet….the two Nevada towns and one Arizona town we visited were busy with visitors. At Goodsprings, Nevada (named after Joseph Good, a cattle driver and early settler) we had lunch in the patio of the Pioneer Saloon, called the oldest continuous operating bar in the Las Vegas Valley.

Gentleman Jack, right, with Goodsprings’ Easy Pete.
Photo by Diane Taylor

As with so many other spots these days, help is hard to get in Goodsprings, so we waited…I’d say. an hour … to get served. No problem. The day was beautiful and we enjoyed seeing the other diners–plenty of young folks, some of whom arrived via motorcycle.

And we read all the signs…some of which, “Drink up bitches” and “Chickenshit Bingo”, were a bit raw but somehow seemed to fit in. One sign in the Goodsprings store said simply “There is a major labor shortage. Instead of complaining, please apply.”

After lunch, we met a man outside the Pioneer Saloon who talked with us and took our photos.. He seemed to be part of the scenery as was his name, “Easy Pete”.

Main Street in Oatman, Arizona is home to tourists and burros alike.
Photo by Diane Taylor

Our next stop was Nelson, Nevada. We actually drove past the Nelson ghost town(which is not a ghost town, at all –it is a 100% tourist attraction. No town ever existed on this spot!) to the end of the road where we set up for a picnic overlooking the Colorado River. The actual town of Nelson is a small community of a about hundred homes closer to the river, located adjacent to the Eldorado Mining district. We had explored the area before and knew that we would have to bring everything for a picnic including the barbecue pit, table & chairs, etc. But the place with all of “historic” building was created for tourism purposes. Here are some photos from the tourist attraction known as Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours. It is actually located near the base of the historic Techatticup Mine, but doesn’t actually include any of the mine property.

Our lake set-up went quickly, and we had a great time. We noted about 20 motorcyclists in the area having some kind of meeting and viewing the lake. An older lady from California helped us pack up and told me I should be kind to my gentleman friend because “He is so nice.” I later told the gentleman her advice, he took it….nicely.

We didn’t think we had the right food for a highway burro, but an orange seemed quite acceptable.
Photo by Gentleman Jack.

Back at the Nelson tourist stop which includes a mine tour for those who are interested, we saw a number of “antique” items on display. We. ourselves are rather antique so we didn’t purchase anything except a Diet Coke from a very friendly clerk. We walked around and looked at several old buildings and vehicles. Interesting.

And finally, at the recommendation of friends, we drove to. Oatman, Arizona. On the way we ran into a 127-car train with double-high containers on almost every car. Well, if the trucks and truckers are in short supply, the train was delivering goods.

Oatman is another former mining town but now a tourist destination featuring…free-ranging local burros who exchange photos for food. Here is a bit more about the “ghosts of Oatman” — The Ghosts and Burros of Oatman by Osie Turner, written on March 20, 2017.

We’re supposed to see burros in Oatman, but we saw a coyote!
Photo by Diane Taylor

We first encountered the burros on the highway into town. We hadn’t brought food for burros, but the gentleman retrieved two of the oranges he had brought for us and fed one to a hungry looking burrow. He (or she) chomped down on the orange and ate the whole thing with juice dripping out of its month. The second orange was saved for “my” picture. Again, the burro. chomped down. While watching the goings on, we also spotted a coyote who had come to the road as well — far away from us. My first real coyote.

We then rode into town, parked and walked the Main Street of Oatman. Lots of stores, many of them closed on a Sunday afternoon. However, we saw more donkeys and folks feeding them small squares of hay. (I’m told don’t bring carrots, just feed the burros the little hay things. Price: $1.00.). We missed the live shows of gunfights on the street which are earlier in the day. I suppose on Saturday and early Sunday the streets would be filled with folks and lots more activity than we saw.. I had never been to a town anywhere where burros roam wild in the street so this was a fun experience. I learned, while in Oatman and reading posted information, that burros can smell water 20 miles away. Amazing!

There was more to see in Oakman than in the other two spots, but again it was no Disneyland in terms of order and cleanliness. But…we had another adventure, petted some burros, saw old buildings, photographed a coyote and enjoyed a good deal of desert scenery.

Picnics, mining towns, desert landscapes and tame burros are much more fun than TV news these days.


7 responses on “Old Mining Towns Welcome the Curious

  1. The owners of the tourism attraction near the historic Techatticup Mine offer “mine tours” but the tours don’t actual reach into the mine. There is one pretty cool thing in the main building, if you visit, ask to see the special artifact that they keep in the freezer!

    And there is no question that the buildings that they built and installed on this site provide great photo shoots!

  2. You and Jack are having such great adventures, it takes me back to the early ’70’s when Bill and I picnicked across New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Keep sharing!

  3. I really liked Goodsprings. But Oatman is my favorite! The mayor of Oatman is a donkey also. We were told that if you get caught feeding the donkey’s on the roads outside the town, there is a hefty fine. They don’t want people feeding them because they become dependent on that and won’t survive the desert. Also, the food the people are feeding the donkeys in town is alfalfa. They sell bags of it in the stores for a buck. If you haven’t already, check out Goldfield!

  4. I like your adventures. Have been to Goodsprings and Oatman and like the later better. Keep on driving to interesting places so others can enjoy your adventures.

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