For the next few posts, I'd like you to join me on a few road trips. Not just any random road trip either, but one of memories linked to my very own family.
I hope to link each post with the current theme. Photographer, beach, camera, children, hats, sand, tripod and even Corky the Cat, all have something to do with our theme for this week.
Or, mysterious suitcase. What valuable, or not so valuable treasures might be locked inside this briefcase?
Shall we open it and see?
"What have we got here?"
"What on earth, somebody is selling a city? Are they serious, an entire town is up for sale?"
Not just any town either. Santa Claus, Arizona.
aka, Santa Claus Acres
My family is rich in stories at the mention of that Arizona town. One in particular springs to mind seeing this old photo.
It wasn't a Pontiac in our story, but rather an older green, rust free Chevrolet, with a radio much like this one. Remember that static sound? My mother's brother joined us that summer for our family's summer vacation, and the long road trip to my grandfather's house in Florence, Arizona. Can you picture three adults, two children and one dog driving from Mason, Michigan all the way to Arizona in one old Chevy with no air conditioning?
Today, depending on which interstate, it can range from 1,900 to over 2,000 miles. Back in those days I remember we often drove on Route 66! Not sure how many miles that would have been.
I had just completed Kindergarten that year and much of that road trip is locked away, but there are major parts of that trip that easily come to mind.
Sadly, the town of Santa Claus wasn't one of them. Possibly because it had become a thing of the past. But, I do remember with much awe waking up, sleepy eyed in the back seat to a vision of the brightest, most intense lights ever seen in the outdoor darkness. We were driving very slowly along Las Vegas Boulevard in Nevada.
I still wonder what was so unique about the town of Santa Claus that we still talk about it today, and my parents always had that twinkle in their eyes.
Maybe you'll know, after we visit today.
If not for a camera being used, I wouldn't be able to share this today.
It all began in about 1937,
by enterprising, real estate woman,
and owner of the town, Santa Claus, Nina Talbot.
This photo was taken in 1940.
Ruins of Santa's Land of today go here.
In it's day the town of Santa Claus was hopping!
Tourists made this one of their destination points!
From as early as 1940 you were welcomed to town by good old Santa Claus.
You just never know what you might discover in the desert.
Santa Claus, Arizona about 1960.
Have you ever heard of Santa Claus, Arizona?
In 1942 this was one of the tourist stops of America's west, on US Highway 93 14 miles NW from Kingman and 70 miles SE from Las Vegas.
Drive time is about an hour and a half from Las Vegas, Nevada, and Florence, Arizona (where my grandfather lived) is about four hours away from Santa Claus.
The story takes a turn in 1949 when Nina sells her interest in the town and yet in her heart, a dash of hope remained. Maybe, springing forth from the old wishing well? Funny thing that well still stands even now.
Others made plans during the 1950's to improve Santa Claus, which also received publicity through the writings of American novelist and famed science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein and other classic science fiction novels here. Also, U.S. pioneer restaurant rater Duncan Hines and through 1961 advertisements offering postmark letters from Santa Claus, for a small fee.
In 1983 owner, Tony Wilcox tried unsuccessfully to sell it for $95,000 which later was reduced to $52,500 by 1988. What businesses that were still opened finally closed completely by 1995. It seems the town became difficult to locate by 2000, and the structures that remained were weathered or worn away.
Some folks refer to it as Santa Claus the Ghost Town.
Today what remains of the town of Santa Claus isn't very pretty. Gone are the Dasher and Dancer Omelets, Santa Claus Burgers, delicious Rum Pies or big style family breakfast plates for only seventy-five cents at the Santa Claus Inn. Presently, what remains in Santa Claus are red and white striped abandoned buildings and the only real visitors are those motorists traveling between Phoenix and Las Vegas or the Hoover Dam.
For my family, the same story remains. We each have our own memories of this old town.
If you want to view other Sepia Saturday posts, or perhaps bring your own story go here.