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The Ghost Town of Christmas Past: Santa Claus, AZ
December 11, 2020

The Ghost Town of Christmas Past: Santa Claus, AZ

by The CE Shop Team

This Abandoned Desert Town Once Housed Santa’s Workshop

Nestled in the Mojave Desert, just off Route 66, lies an abandoned town with uniquely festive character. Aptly named Santa Claus, the North Pole-inspired village that was once a merry tourist destination is now overrun with tumbleweed. It’ll take a Christmas miracle to restore this ghost town to its bright and cheery former glory.

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History of Santa Claus, AZ

The once-magical Christmas village of Santa Claus, Arizona was founded in the 1930s by real estate agent Nina Talbot, who relocated to the area from California. Looking to attract buyers to the semi-remote location (water had to be trucked in from Kingman, a town 14 miles over), Talbot went about erecting a resort town oasis. In a festive public relations flair, she went all out with a candy-striped holiday theme.

With an array of storybook-inspired structures in place, road-trippers and kitsch lovers alike started pulling over in Santa Claus. The local post office collected and answered letters to Santa, and children could sit on his lap all year long. Duncan Hines even lauded the Christmas Tree Inn, originally dubbed the Santa Claus Inn, as one of the best places to grab a bite along this stretch of Route 66. The festive rum pie and chicken a la North Pole were especially popular.

As the years went by, Route 66’s popularity diminished and motorists dwindled. By the time the ‘70s rolled around, the town was not looking so merry and bright. The holiday-themed attractions closed down, employees moved away, and Santa Claus fell into disrepair.

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Santa Claus, AZ Today

Now, all that’s left of the once-gleaming holiday town are a few boarded-up buildings and some tumbleweeds. Flakes of the formerly-festive paint are barely visible beneath the barbed wire and graffiti, and Santa’s face is even missing from the welcome sign. The silver lining, though, is that the bizarre remains of Santa Claus have begun drawing photographers and explorers fascinated by the roadside ruins. Perhaps, with the help of a Christmas miracle, this ghost town of Christmas past has a bright future.

Looking to restore the holiday spirit to this once-festive town? While property in Santa Claus isn’t for sale, the average home price in nearby Kingman is $187,840, a 10.2% increase from the previous year. Zillow predicts this figure will rise another 8.7% in the next year.

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