Gallup History


Gallup is located in northwest New Mexico, USA near the Four Corners region. Founded in 1881 as a headquarters for the southern transcontinental rail route, the town draws its name from David L. Gallup, a paymaster for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (later part of the Santa Fe Railroad). Gallup is situated midway between Albuquerque, NM and Flagstaff, AZ on Interstate 40 and is bisected by historic U.S. Highway 66. Gallup is the county seat of McKinley County with a population of approximately 21,678.

Ancient Roots

Several archeological sites near Gallup record the presence of Ancestral Puebloans, a prehistoric farming culture that developed and persisted in the area from 300 to 1200 CE. From 1700 to the present, members of the Navajo tribe have sparsely inhabited the region.


The town has a long association with the mining and railroad industries, although tourism has been most significant to the local economy more recently. Due to its proximity to Monument Valley and other favorite western settings for Hollywood’s movie kings, Gallup’s El Rancho Hotel has played host to many legendary film stars such as John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, and Ronald Reagan.


Known as the Indian Capital of the World, modern Gallup features a diverse culture with a significant portion (43%) of the local population being Native American. The predominant local tribes are Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni. Gallup is home to many of the finest tribal artists in the U.S., practicing their talents in jewelry, weaving, pottery, painting, sculpture, and other artistic endeavors.