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Ghosts and Gold in the Wild West


((PKG)) WILD WEST TOWN
((Banner: Ghosts and Gold))

((Reporter/Camera: Genia Dulot))
((Adapted by:
Philip Alexiou))
((Map:
Oatman, Arizona))
((NATS))
(("Big" Mike Fox, Oatman Resident))

Oatman is a gold mining camp that was actually officially started in 1901. Between 1901 and 1942, they took 36-million ounces of gold out of these mountains. All the gold that paid for World War I came from these mountains and the vulture mine over in Wickenburg. In 1942, Roosevelt deemed that gold mining wasn’t necessary for fighting World War II. He needed the materials to fight that war rather than the gold. So, he asked all the miners that were working here to go mine the things he needed for fighting the war. They, out of honor, did, went and mined other things. So the population of Oatman dwindled down to about 300 people. The gold mining stopped and nothing happened here until, and in 1951, they put in a bypass and came in the needles around the backside of these mountains back here. And when they did that, the town of Oatman dried up and became a ghost town.
(("Big" Mike Fox, Oatman Resident))
Most of the geologists that were working in this area when they shut it down said, they’d only taken a third of the gold out. So, if there was 36 million ounces of it they took out of here, there’s, you know, two thirds, two times that still in the ground. And they never did find it out here what they call a motherload, which is where they think most of the gold might have been coming from, out of the ground. So, who knows how much gold might really be out here somewhere. For every ounce you can see, there’s probably anywhere from eight to 10 ounces there that you can’t see. That’s just so small your eyes would never see it. But it’s there. We just do it for fun. But if we were going to make a living out of it, I could easily see getting 10 to 15 ounces a month. You’re talking, you know, 15 thousand dollars a month or something like that if you really wanted to work at it and that was all you were doing.
((Banner: Oatman now relies on tourism))
((Linda Woodard, Oatman Photo Studio Owner))
Our country is very young compared to, like, the European countries and the Asian countries, so they’re fascinated with the Wild West.
((NATS))
Right there. I got the gold.
((Linda Woodard, Oatman Photo Studio Owner))
And they like to come over and, you know, the cowboys and…..
((NATS))
Billy, say draw! Draw!
((Linda Woodard, Oatman Photo Studio Owner))

You know, all the different things, the miners, you know, this is actually a mining community.
(("Big" Mike Fox, Oatman Resident))
The hotel up there is, you know, we know of at least three we know by, we think we know by name, and there’s at least five of them there. They’re ghosts that actually interact with you. They’ve interacted with me for years. Moving things around, whispering in your ear, talking to you, all kinds of things they can do to interact with you and let you know they’re there.
((NATS))
(("Big" Mike Fox, Oatman Resident))

Some other stuff it needs, there’s all kinds of stuff in here that shouldn’t be there. This town will never get any bigger than what it is. There’s no sewage here. There’s no, I mean, there’s sewage, but it’s all septic tanks and things. There’s no actually city operated sewer system or anything like that. There’s a city, there’s a water, a water company, but other than that, there’s not enough of anything else to let people come up here and live in large quantities. So, this town will never grow. So, it’s pretty much, for the rest of my life, it’ll be pretty much like this.
((NATS))
(("Big" Mike Fox, Oatman Resident))

I live here. I’ve been here all my life. This is the way I lived. This is the way I grew up and it’s freedom.
((Reporter))
Freedom in what sense??
(("Big" Mike Fox, Oatman Resident))
Freedom in that people don’t tell me what I need to do. I live by my own wits and my own decisions and my own way. And nobody's telling me what I have to do, and you know, you got to go and do this, you got to have insurance, you got to do this, you got to do that. No, I live the way I want to live. And out here, living out here in this, especially the Parker Strip, is a rough way to go. Because it’s hotter than hell in here during the summer and, you know, it takes, it takes, it takes some living off the land mentality to be able to survive here and do it well. So, it’s just freedom.
((NATS))

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