Freight trains are integral to the Gallup culture.

In 1880, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad built headquarters for paymaster David L. Gallup in a rural New Mexico area. Workers started using the phrase “going to Gallup” when they discussed picking up their paychecks. In 1881, when the town was established, Gallup was chosen as the name.

The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway chose Gallup as a division point in 1895 and built shops, repair facilities and a depot hotel.

In the early 1900s, Gallup became a stopover point for the Santa Fe’s Indian Detours due to its proximity to Native American landmarks such as Zuni and Acoma Pueblos and the Petrified Forest.

Mary Colter, a Fred Harvey Company architect, designed a Harvey House for Gallup in 1916. Completed in 1923, El Navajo did not feature the Mission Revival architectural style seen in some of her other work. Instead, she favored the Pueblo Revival style in honor of the community’s strong Native American ties. Native American artwork adorned the interior of the hotel, which was one of the largest on the system and one of the main training grounds for Harvey Girls. The Harvey house closed in 1957 and was demolished that year.

In 1996, the city of Gallup renovated the Santa Fe depot and opened the Gallup Cultural Center, a community center featuring a cultural and historic exhibit, Native American Art Gallery and visitor center.

Today, Gallup is part of BNSF’s Southern Transcon, a transcontinental route which runs from Chicago to Los Angeles. The Southern Transcon is an important route for intermodal trains. Intermodal freight containers are switched between different modes of transportation such as ships, trains and trucks on their journey from suppliers to consumers, carrying goods that we use every day such as clothes, electronics and vehicles.

On November 2, 2015 BNSF honored the city with its BNSF Railway Heritage Community Award for embracing their past, present and future ties to freight rail.