Ancient Santa Claus, Arizona: The Tourist Destination Where Christmas Dreams Die

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They picture a jolly old man living at the North Pole. As it turns out, he lived in the Mohave Desert for a while at least. 

He even had a town named after him. It used to be a place of jolly good cheer, but now it’s a place where kids’ Christmas dreams die.

In the desert, there is a Christmas town

Nina Talbot and her husband moved from Los Angeles, California, to Kingman, Arizona, in the late 1920s so that they could run a local motel. 

Santa Claus was built by Talbot in 1937. It is 14 miles northwest of Kingman on US Route 93, near the town of Santa Claus.Below are some related santa claus pictures

Santa Claus, Arizona
Photo Credit: Roadsidepictures / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Santa Claus, Arizona
Photo Credit: Roadsidepictures / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Her plan was to use the theme of the town in the Arizona desert to draw people to the 80 acres of land that she had divided into lots. 

She thought it was a good place because US Route 93 gets a lot of traffic from people who drive from Phoenix, Arizona, to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photo Credit: Todd Huffman / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

Santa Claus, Arizona
Photo Credit: mlhradio / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

The town had a lot of things to see and do, like the Kit Carson Guest House, which was later changed to the Santa Claus Inn. In an air-conditioned restaurant in the desert, it served “a big farm breakfast.” 

It also had a menu with Rum Pie à la Kris Kringle and Chicken à la North Pole. The rum pie, in particular, was a big hit with the people who came to the party.

Santa Claus, Arizona
santa claus images| Photo Credit: Ben Churchill / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

Highlighted in postcards, the “French Room” of the restaurant was shown. A picture of Santa Claus was put over the fireplace in the restaurant. 

This is not the only thing there. There was also a gift shop, postal service, and pink train with hand-painted pictures of Santa and his elves on it, called the “Old 1225.”

A popular place for tourists.

In its early years, Santa Claus was a big hit. By 1942, it was a popular place for tourists to visit. Cinderella’s Doll House and the Third Little Pig’s house were two of the buildings that drew people in. 

Children liked that they could visit Santa all year long, so when December came around, they wrote to the town. Parents also went to the post office to get letters from “Santa Claus.”

Santa Claus, Arizona
Photo Credit: mlhradio / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Talbot’s dream of making Santa Claus a bustling town didn’t come true, and after 12 years of running the town, she sold her stake in it in 1949.

Santa Claus had some success in the 1950s, thanks to a mention in a short story by Robert A. Heinlein and a review by Duncan Hines, who said it was one of the best places to eat on US Route 66, even though it was several miles away from the highway.

Santa Claus, Arizona
Photo Credit: Rural Warrior Photography / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

Santa Claus, Arizona
Photo Credit: Roadsidepictures / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

It was renamed the Christmas Tree Inn during this time. It quickly became a popular place for celebrities to stay. When Jane Russell came to the inn’s restaurant in August 1954, she was one of the most famous people to have a dinner party there at the time.

Santa Claus, Arizona
Photo Credit: Ben Churchill / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Santa Claus, Arizona
Photo Credit: Ben Churchill / Flickr CC BY 2.0

In 1961, Santa Claus got some attention because of an advertisement in a magazine called Popular Mechanics. If you want to send Christmas cards or letters to kids from your town, you can pay a fee of $0.25 USD and send them again.

 You’ll also have to pay the postage fee. This led to a United States Postal Service stamp on the envelope that said “Santa Claus.”

When Santa Claus started to decline and close down

He lost popularity in the 1970s, and by the middle of that decade, he was no longer being made, so the development was shut down.

Santa Claus, Arizona
Photo Credit: mlhradio / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Town: Tony Wilcox sold it for $95,000 in July 1983. Someone offered him $50,000, but he turned it down because he thought he could get more. 

As it turns out, that wasn’t the case. In 1988, he had to lower the price he was asking for to just $22,500.

Santa Claus, Arizona
Photo Credit: Todd Huffman / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

As of 1988, Santa Claus consisted of just three small, poorly-maintained A-frame buildings that had been painted in such a way as to represent peppermint candy. Seven years later, in 1995, all remaining businesses in the town were permanently closed.

Barbed wire and dilapidated buildings

As of the 2000s, Santa Claus had few remaining structures. Its attractions were weather-worn and vandalized. Due to the closure of US Route 66 in 1985 and its removal from the Arizona State Map, it’s become difficult to locate, unless you’ve done your research ahead of time.

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Photo Credit: Ben Churchill / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Photo Credit: Ben Churchill / Flickr CC BY 2.0

In 2003, the town had just 10 people living there, spread out over five houses. Because it was for sale in 2007, though.

Little is left of the once-bustling town. Only two buildings are left, and they are surrounded by barbed wire. They don’t have any shingles, and their floors have become rusty. Graffiti has been added to some of the attractions, like a wishing well and the “Old 1225.” This makes the images of Santa and his elves less festive.

Santa Claus, Arizona
Photo Credit: Ben Churchill / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

It’s said that as of 2015. The train has gone, and Santa’s face has been taken from the town’s sign. Will you spend a year without a santa claus??

Read about The City of the Century, now it’s more like a ghost town.

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