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The company was a result of the merger of the Dripping Springs Mines and the Universal Mines. The property consisted of 25 claims in the Dripping Springs district of Gila County.
On the eastern flank of the Dripping Spring Mountains, 22 miles south of Globe, the Christmas Mine was known for its abundant copper deposits — it produced 55 million pounds of copper from 1905 to 1943 valued at more than $10 million. It also yielded limited amounts of gold and silver.
The Christmas copper deposit was discovered in 1880 by Dennis O’Brien and William Tweed, who either sold or optioned their claims to Phelps, Dodge & Co.
The claims could not be developed because they were deemed invalid since they were in the confines of the San Carlos Indian Reservation. Mining in the area was hindered until the reservation boundaries were redrawn and the valuable mining property was reclassified as public domain following an executive order issued by President Theodore Roosevelt on Dec. 22, 1902, opening the future Christmas Mine property to mineral exploration.
Upon hearing about the reclassification, George B. Chittenden and N.H Mellor staked their claims on Christmas morning 1902, giving the mine and future town their namesakes.
Phelps, Dodge & Co. filed suit to recover its disputed claims without success while the disputed mining claims were taken over by the newly formed Saddle Mountain Mining Co.
Several different companies operated or had a vested interest in the history of the property
The revolving door of companies resulted from a lack of capital, bankruptcy, financial panic, bond defaults and the fluctuating price of copper.
In the early years the property hosted a 20-ton concentrator, Bartlett table and an old smelter with two small water-jacket blast furnaces.
The nearby Deer Creek Coal Field provided fuel for the smelter. In later years a 9-mile branch line of the Southern Pacific Railroad was established nearby to accommodate ore transport to the Asarco smelter at Hayden.
The town’s peak years were from 1925 to 1932, with a population reaching 1,000. The community included a dairy, butcher shop, barbershop, general store and pool hall along with a Catholic church and school.
The Christmas Mine saw heightened activity during and after World War II when the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Mines undertook a diamond-drilling exploration program.
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