In 1880 rich deposits of gold were found in the Dripping Springs Mountains south of Globe by Dr. James Douglas, president of the Phelps Dodge Mining Company. Since the deposits were on the Apache Reservation it couldn’t be developed. Phelps Dodge hired an Irishman named Michael O’Brien to squat on the property and for twenty years O’Brien camped out on the site, awaiting the chance to legally file on the claims.
Meanwhile, another entrepreneur, George Chittenden, learned about the rich ore and he rammed a bill through Congress to gerrymander the reservation line around the deposits. Then he hired a relay of riders posted from Casa Grande, 75 miles away to await word of the bill’s passage. Word arrived by telegraph the day before Christmas, 1902 and riders were dispatched with the news. On Christmas Eve, Chittenden got the news. He immediately staked claims and named it Christmas.
Mike O’Brien, the man hired by Phelps Dodge to squat on the property had gone into Globe to celebrate Christmas and by the time he returned, Chittenden and his friends had staked out their claims.
The Christmas Mine thrived from 1905 until the mid-1930s. During those years folks around the nation sent thousands of holiday cards to Christmas to get the town’s postmark. The town and the mine closed in 1967.