Santa Claus, Arizona – Postmarks From A Postage Stamp-Size Town

Santa Claus, Arizona

The Santa Claus, Arizona remailing ‘postmark,’ as applied to the back of a postcard prior to the piece being routed to the Kingman Post Office for final distribution.
Image credit: eBay

While Prescott holds the title of “Arizona’s Christmas City,” as made official by Governor Rose Mofford in December of 1989, other towns in the state can rightfully boast strong historical Yuletide associations. Christmas, Arizona, a onetime Gila County copper mining community since erased by an open pit mine operation, received its name in honor of the day on which prospectors staked the area’s first legal mineral claim. The Christmas, Arizona Post Office faced a surge of activity each winter as a result of the town’s status as a popular remailing hub. Remailing entails receiving envelopes and parcels from elsewhere and affixing a local postmark prior to sending the mail along to its final recipient. Although the now nonexistent town of Christmas lost its Post Office in 1935, a Mohave County real estate development quickly stepped in to fill the holiday postmark void.

California transplant Nina Talbot founded Santa Claus, Arizona, a Yule-themed roadside attraction and ultimately unsuccessful real estate venture, in 1937. While Richard Helbock’s booklet entitled A Checklist of Arizona Post Offices 1856-1988 does not list Santa Claus as ever having a bona fide United States Post Office, the town nonetheless managed to capitalize on its jolly appellation. Through 1961, the community’s de facto postmaster cleverly leveraged the town’s moniker by creating an unofficial postmark bearing St. Nick’s likeness. Although the uniquely named development failed as a real estate project, its North Pole-inspired name brought subsequent owners a modicum of financial success primarily through seasonal remailing operations. The now all-but-abandoned town along US 93 has long since stopped stamping letters and parcels with Kris Kringle’s image prior to forwarding the pieces on to the nearby Kingman Post Office for final handling. Instead, those hoping to gain a seasonally appropriate postmark must now route their mail through Santa Claus, Indiana, a still-popular remailing center that handles a tremendous volume of mail every December.

Coincidentally, Santa Claus, Arizona was not the only Mohave County community bearing a name that lent itself to remailing opportunities. The now-deserted town of Valentine, Arizona (named not for the holiday, but rather, Commissioner of Indian Affairs Robert Valentine), a settlement less than fifty miles east of Santa’s desert home, provided a widely-used remailing service for many years. Romantics far and wide sought Valentine postmarks for their love letters until the 1975 closure of the hamlet’s Post Office, effectively ending Arizona’s run as a remailing center.