What’s the Story of Christmas, AZ?
While its name is festive, Christmas, AZ is far from it these days. Now a ghost town with just a few residents, the small community was established on Christmas Day in 1902, when the nearby mine was staked.
Previous attempts to stake mines in the area failed because the land was part of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. However, an executive order signed by President Roosevelt on Dec. 22, 1902, reshaped the boundaries of the reservation and removed prior mining claims. Prospectors George B. Chittenden and N.H. Mellor got word of the order on Christmas Eve and headed to the former claim sites, where they were able to stake their claim the following morning.
The town, located off of State Route 77 and eight miles north of the smelter town of Hayden, near Winkleman, was a bustling mining community for about 30 years, boasting 1,000 residents at its height. The Christmas mine produced more than 50 million pounds of copper and small amounts of other minerals before its closure. Miners discovered the minerals apachite, junitoite and ruizite here as well.
Unlike other mining towns, Christmas didn’t have a brothel, a saloon or a gambling hall. It could be that the town’s name seemed to deter any unsavory behavior, but we can’t know for certain.
Many people would route their holiday mail through the town’s post office to get the unique Christmas postmark. The influx of mail became so overwhelming that the post office was closed in the 1930s.
Unfortunately, you can’t visit Christmas anymore. After closing in the 1930s, the mine traded hands a few times, and was converted to an open pit which resulted in the destruction of several of the town’s buildings. The mine is still operational and is owned by Freeport McMoran.