History of Gallup

David L. Gallup

David L. Gallup


Gallup is a city in northwest New Mexico, USA near the Four Corners region. Gallup is situated approximately midway between Albuquerque, NM and Flagstaff, AZ and is bisected by historic U.S. Highway 66. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the population is approximately 21,678. It is the county seat of McKinley County. Founded in 1881, as a headquarters along the construction right of way 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).


The town has a long association with the mining and railroad industries, although tourism has been most significant to the local economy in recent times. 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.


Also 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. For the past several years in late June, Gallup has also hosted the National Junior High School Finals Rodeo.