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Today in
S.C.V. History
June 7
1861 - Fort Tejon commander ordered to abandon fort (est. 1854) & transfer garrison to Los Angeles [story]
Fort Tejon

Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Friday, Jul 1, 2016

darrylmanzer0215We have been able to visit a couple of very old mining towns not far from Bullhead City, Ariz. I don’t feel so bad about Mentryville after seeing them.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love both of those little towns and enjoyed visiting, but one thing I kept thinking about was how the buildings in Mentryville would look if not even some minimum level of preservation took place.

You see, both towns are in great need of a coat of paint and a bunch of cleaning. The old wood is baking in the sun and very dry. I remember some of the old buildings, now long gone, in Mentryville, that looked the same. You can look at the tin-covered shed next to the Mentryville barn and see some of that wood. It came from lumber of the old boarding house, and the tin was from the old firehouse, both up near the wells. I know that for sure. I helped move those materials to the barn area in 1964 when we built the pole barn for calves.

The town of Chloride, Ariz., is north of Kingman about 26 miles. It is an old silver mining town with lots of old buildings and a Western movie set. On any Saturday at noon, you can see a gunfight there. I also learned that for a short time, Chloride was the capital of Arizona Territory.

ghosttown01There are a couple of restaurants in town that serve pretty good food and have great air conditioning. Obviously there isn’t an HOA controlling folks unless it is an HOA that encourages folks to collect old parts and pieces of mining equipment, vehicles, wagons and bottles. They call it “art.” It looks like a collection of what a very large pack rat would gather. We didn’t take much time to explore those places, but we shall return.

The good news about Chloride is that the roads to it are paved and well maintained; lunch was of a reasonable price, and folks are all super friendly. Highly recommend it. Just understand that most every building needs some paint and preservation … or maybe the residents don’t do that to maintain the charm of the place. It isn’t quite a ghost town but could be quickly.

“If you ever want to travel west / take the highway that is the very best / get your kicks on Route 66.” At one time that road, long called the Mother Road, went right through the little mining town of Oatman, Ariz.

Now, Oatman has the required gunfights in the street every day at noon and 2 p.m. It tends to disturb the wild burros that wander around the town. Because of the burros, please don’t take your dog with you when you go there. The burros are not tame. They are wild and do not want to meet your cute little Fido. The burros consider a dog, any dog, a predator that must be killed.

Those critters are cute. and you can take picture of you standing next to them.


Every so often, someone gets kicked, or a car gets kicked or – well, you get the idea. Now you know where the song got the words about getting “kicks” on Route 66. At least that is how I see it.

There are a couple of places to eat, and you can even go upstairs in the Oatman Hotel and look into the room where Clark Gable and Carol Lombard spent part of their honeymoon. It is air-conditioned today. Back then it wasn’t.

Oatman has a photography shop that will get you dressed in old-time clothes and take the perfect snapshot of your visit. For a few dollars more, you can even arrange a “shotgun” wedding where the same gunmen will march in the groom or bride or maybe even the preacher for the hitchin’. It is a real preacher, and as long as you provide the proper license, he will deliver the ceremony. For a fair price, you get all of that, along with costumes for up to six of your friends and some pictures of the whole shindig.

ghosttown03There are shops and such in the town. Custom leatherwork, authentic collectibles made in China, and some really wonderful folks who make it a lot of fun. I even cut a CD in a studio of me singing a couple of Frank Sinatra tunes. That was at a place called Fast Fanny’s. Stop in at that shop and be sure to say “howdy” to Jackie and Bob, longtime residents of Oatman and owners of Fast Fanny’s. Bob sounds just like Waylon Jennings when he sings.

Oatman also has a paved road going all the way through town and over the mountains towards Kingman. On the way you’ll pass through Cool Springs. Must be the real life inspiration for Radiator Springs in the “Cars” movies by Disney.

Oatman, like Chloride, has buildings that need paint. Of course, with all of the advertising on the sides of the buildings, maybe the structures are protected enough. We can only hope.

It is fun place to visit. You do have to watch where you step. Burros can and do leave calling cards any and every place they go.

I did find out recently that Mohave County, Ariz., has the largest population of wild burros in the United States. Not so sure that is a good thing. One recent morning, I was driving in Bullhead City and darned near hit one with the Jeep.

At least the buildings in Mentryville look pretty good on the outside. Paint appears to be good for now, but the interiors are a wreck. We will have to correct the colors of the paint in our old ghost town someday. Historically, the buildings were painted buff gray with white trim. Not a bit of red paint anyplace – except on the Standard Oil or Chevron signs. That is another fight for another day.

Until that day I’ve got to check to see if the burros are down by the river. They are a royal pain in the ass. Just goes to show you what happens when you collect a large number of Democrats in one spot. God help Philadelphia this month. Maybe the protestors are being like the burros in Mohave County. I hope not.


Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].


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1 Comment

  1. jim says:

    Ouch! Jackass Democrats? And are you suggesting that they are leaving deposits for some loans?

    Don’t stay there too long Darryl. They’re gonna be importing some Elephants (hmm, Indian or African?) pretty soon. And the last thing you want to do is be there when they start Trump-eting.

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