The Famous Couple That Reportedly Haunts This Route 66 Hotel

Route 66 originally ran for 2,448 miles between Chicago and Los Angeles and became famous quickly for many reasons. According to the National Museum of American History, it was the main highway used by migrants during the Great Depression moving to California. But it was also famous for its scenic beauty, especially in the section running through Arizona, where it cuts through the desert and its stunning red rocks, ponderosa pine forests, and many tiny towns –- some of them ghost towns by now –- with their own unique charm (via American Automobile Association). 

After World War II, a newer federal highway system was built, and Route 66 was slowly replaced (and sometimes built over). By 1985, the famous, beloved Route 66 officially ceased to exist (per Britannica). Since then, the route has become a national legend and now attracts thousands of people every year who just want to ride it in an homage to times gone by.

Today, a road trip along Route 66 is not complete without a few haunted pitstops. From the "zombie road" section in Missouri famous for its ghost lights to the Coleman Theater in Oklahoma and its mysterious "ghost fires," allegedly there are plenty of spirits that call the historical highway home. Hotels along the highway have also gained a bit of a "reputation," with many claiming their share of ghostly legends and scary apparitions still haunting their rooms and stairways. This includes Hotel Monte Vista and the ghost in a rocking chair, and The Hollywood Roosevelt with its trumpet-playing ghost (via Country Living). 

Meet the Oatman haunted hotel

When it comes to haunted places on Route 66, though, some are definitely stranger (and more fascinating) than others. Take, for example, the case of the Oatman Hotel. Originally built in 1902 –- long before Oatman Town became famous as a gold mining destination -– under the name Durlin Hotel, the Oatman actually burned down in 1921, when a major fire swiped through town and destroyed almost everything in it (per National Park Service). 

By 1924, the Oatman Hotel was up and running again in the form of a two-story adobe building with eight rooms. By then, the gold mining boom had transformed the town into a very prosperous destination and tourism had started to pick up among those traveling on U.S. Highway 66.

Once the miners moved on, The Oatman Hotel was forced to close its doors too. Today, the property no longer operates as a hotel, though the original hotel sign is still there –- but visitors can stop by for a drink or some food before walking up the small museum on the second floor.

Something else that still remains at The Oatman Hotel according to some is the ghosts. This includes the spirit of Oatie, an Irish miner who died on the hotel grounds and it's now said to play the bagpipe and open windows. Other hotel ghosts include some known to sleep on the second floor, leaving their body outlines on the dust, and playful former saloon visitors who like to lift glasses up in the air (via Legends of America). 

And the famous couple who still resides there

But the most famous ghosts at The Oatman Hotel happen to be Hollywood stars, or so the story goes. In 1939, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard –- perhaps the two biggest stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood –- got married in the town of Kingman, Arizona, while there filming "Gone with the Wind." The couple eloped and spend one night away before they had to return to the set the next day –- and legend goes they spend that night at The Oatman Hotel (per Phoenix Home and Garden). 

Gable knew the (then still named) Drulin Hotel well as he would go there to gamble with the miners sometimes, so it could potentially be true that the happy couple decided to head there, away from everything, for their honeymoon night. If you visit The Oatman Hotel, you can even see the room where they supposedly slept –- it's been preserved, in all its simplicity, behind plexiglass.

Lombard died less than three years later in a plane crash, so maybe her ghost is returning to the historical hotel to revive happier times with the love of her life. Reports say laughs and whispers can sometimes be heard from the room, presumably as the newlyweds are still enjoying their stay many decades later (via Legends of America). The story of their stay at The Oatman Hotel has been disputed by some sources, as the dates of the marriage and stay don't seem to match -– but since we can't be sure, why not believe in the power of love surviving through time?