The first mining claim was filed in 1878 in Gila County, Arizona and another one was filed in 1882, but both were invalidated in 1884 when it was found the claims were located within the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.

Enterprising miner George B. Chittenden lobbied Congress to change the reservation boundaries and on December 22, 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt signed an executive order reverting the land back to the public domain.  Chittenden and N.H. Mellor immediately staked their claims on Christmas morning – thus the name of both the mine and the town.  According to an Arizona Republic article, the two men stated, “We filled our stockings and named the place Christmas in honor of the day.”

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