On an unusually cold Saturday morning in December just days away from Christmas the husband and I set our sights on Santa Claus, the location not the man. The time of year for this trip was nothing more than a coincidence but did add an air of childhood innocence to the adventure. Many of the “towns” in Arizona are/were nothing more than truck stops or stage-coach stops depending on when they were established. Santa Claus was one of those towns located 14 miles northwest of Kingman en route to Las Vegas.
The town closed in 1995 and has since been reduced to several weathered and vandalized buildings, our exact reason for visiting! Being that Santa Claus is 200 miles from Phoenix we put a little more effort into researching that the town still existed. Satisfied with what we learned we loaded up the car and hit the road.
Yes, there are still some buildings intact, unfortunately they were behind a tall fence with several very large No Trespassing signs. Now I’ll be honest, small or obscure No Trespassing signs in locations a little off the beaten path have been ignored in the past, for the sake of art of course, but Santa Claus sits directly on the highway. Other than a couple of photos taken from the parking lot Santa Claus was a bust.
Luckily for us and the mileage on my trusty Escape, while I was researching Santa Claus I also learned of the quirky sounding town of Chloride, the oldest continuously inhabited mining town in Arizona. Being only 8 ½ miles northwest of Santa Claus it was a perfect backup town. What attracted me to Chloride was the promise of a cemetery dating back to the 1800’s, cliff murals, and the claim of having the largest yard art collection anywhere.
We didn’t find the cliff murals and the cemetery was a disappointment, though to be fair, compared to the east coast most of the cemeteries in Arizona are disappointing. But we did find yard art. Whether it’s the largest collection anywhere as boasted by the Chloride website I’ll probably never know, but there was definitely a lot of it. We were able to meet and chat with the owner of Shady Lady Attic Antiques, the owner of several homes filled inside and out with yard art, most of which was for sale. Sharon was very nice and welcoming, she gave us a tour and explained several of her pieces as well as where she collected the materials for her art, mostly out in the desert.
In the center of town you will find Cyanide. Cyanide is replica of an Old West town built by a re-enactor group and where gunfights take place most Saturdays at noon. This particular Saturday the streets of Cyanide were safe from gunfighters as we were the only people around.
Since our initial plan for this trip was to photograph an abandoned town we were very pleased when we stumbled upon an abandoned house on the outskirts of town.
We spent a little more time driving around the streets of Chloride looking at the houses and guessing about the people who lived in them before heading into Kingman for the night.
More photos from this trip are at Perfectly Damaged Photography
Photo Credit: Coldshot Photography