Santa Claus, AZ

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I’d passed Santa Claus, Arizona three times and didn’t even realize it was there.

It wasn’t until I looked at an Arizona road map, searching for a spot to spend a night on a trip between Las Vegas and Phoenix, that I saw the unusual place name. A town named Santa Claus? I wondered. In Arizona? What the hell?

Turns out there’s not much of a town there. As an Atlas Obscura article says, it’s really just a “Saint Nicholas-themed ghost town in the Mojave.”

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This photo shows the remains of Santa’s Land Office, but unfortunately, the jolly old elf’s face is gone, and he’s only identifiable by a bit of remaining beard.

According to Wikipedia, it all started in the 1930s when

Nina Talbot[8] and her husband moved from Los Angeles, California, to Kingman, Arizona, to operate a motel[5]In 1937, she opened the town of Santa Claus approximately 14 miles (23 km) northwest of img_7878Kingman.[3][5] Her plans for the town included subdividing the 80-acre (32 ha) site into lots that would form a resort town centered on a Santa theme…[5][9] Talbot built a series of buildings using a North Pole, Santa’s workshop theme as part of the Santa Claus…attraction.[9] The attraction was designed to promote the sales of surrounding, subdivided land.[9]

The aforementioned Atlas Obscura article says the town

featured several Christmas-themed buildings and visiting children could meet Santa Claus at any day of the year.

The town did in fact become a popular tourist destination, however no one ever bought land there…Failing to see how she would make her real estate profits, and with the town in decline, Talbot sold Santa Claus in 1949, having failed in her attempt to convince people to move to the desert.img_7888

The town of Santa Claus sounded worthy of a visit, even if the town is now of the ghost variety. I decided I would stop by on my way to Phoenix. I wasn’t expecting much, and I wasn’t disappointed.

There’s no exit for a town called Santa Claus, no sign announcing the place. I only knew what dilapidated building were the remains of the town because I’d gleaned the location from the Roadside America website: Between mile markers 57 and 58, on the west side of Highway 93.

When I got to mile marker 56, I started looking. When I got to mile marker 57, I began to pay close attention. Then I saw some rundown shacks on the side of the highway. There was also a wide gravel parking area just off the shoulder of the road. I slowed the van and pulled into the gravel. Beyond the parking area was a fence topped with barbed wire and adorned with a faded sign ordering “no trespassing.”

img_7882I stayed on my side of the fence and took photos of the one pole still decorated with green and red Christmas swirls, the deteriorating wishing well, the rotting buildings, the graffiti emblazoned over it all. Apparently, there was once a little train (the “Old 1225”) on the property too, but it’s gone now. You can see photos of it and the face of Santa now missing from the land office sign on the Atlas Obscura page about the town, which says,

by the 1970s, [the town] had already begun to fall into disrepair…The last gift shops and amusements went out of business in 1995…

The Wikipedia article about the town of Santa Claus says,

In 2003, the population of Santa Claus was 10, divided among five houses, one of which had a buffalo.[14] By 2004, the town had become difficult to locate…as of 2005, all U.S. mail addressed to Santa Claus is sent to Santa Claus, Indiana.[15]

Well Virginia, I guess there’s not a Santa Clause, at least not in Arizona. img_7879

The good news is that Santa Clause, AZ is for sale. Four acres can be had, and the owners are considering all offers. The bad news? I’m not sure any of those buildings can be salvaged, which means if you buy Santa Claus, all you’re really getting is a parcel of land with a cool name.

I took all of the photos in this post. To see really stunning photos of the remains of Santa Claus, AZ, see the December 2013 article from the Daily Mail titled “Walking in a desert wonderland: Haunting photos of an abandoned Arizona Christmas theme park portray a once popular tourist spot after decades of decline in the Mojave heat.”

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About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

2 Responses »

  1. I was on that road twice (about 25 years ago), and never noticed it. I must have blinked. Nice waste and vehicle disposal next door. I hope the owner isn’t desperate to sell it. Just for laughs, I looked around, and the estimated value is about $26,000. Of course, that is probably the ASKING price, and not necessarily the GETTING price.

    To tell the truth, I don’t think Santa would have anything to do with the place — there’s nothing for his reindeer to eat.

    • Well, maybe Santa would only come to the desert in the summer to warm up, and maybe he would leave his reindeer at home. According to http://mymerrychristmas.com/what-do-the-reindeer-eat/, “Reindeer usually eat a mixture of grains — oats and barley, that kind of thing. We feed them veggies, too and, of course, they graze on wild grasses, berries, and sage. Reindeer are naturally very healthy eaters.” So Santa could have the reindeer food trucked in if they decided to stay in Arizona with him. Or he could let them eat the wild grasses out there. Perhaps they could learn to love creosote bushes. In any case, the aforementioned website says, “Never feed chocolate to reindeer. It upsets their tummies.”

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