BNSF honors Gallup with Heritage Community Award

5 Nov 2015

Andrew Johnsen, assistant vice president, Community Affairs, talks with Jackie McKinney, mayor of Gallup, N.M. aboard a BNSF business car after presenting him with a model locomotive.


BNSF honored the city of Gallup, N.M. in a ceremony on Nov. 2 with its BNSF Railway Heritage Community Award. The award honors communities around BNSF’s 32,500-mile rail network that embrace their past, present and future ties to freight rail.


A reception and dinner were held aboard BNSF business cars brought to the Gallup Rail Yard for the occasion. 


Mayor Jackie McKinney accepted the award on behalf of the city. McKinney was joined by elected officials as well as representatives from area businesses and non-profit organizations. 


Andrew Johnsen, assistant vice president, community affairs, presented the award and expressed BNSF’s appreciation to the citizens, staff and leadership of Gallup and McKinley County. 


“BNSF Railway and Gallup have a shared history -- a history of seeking collaboration to grow jobs and the economy, solve problems together and strengthen our role as a good neighbor,” Johnsen said.       


As part of the recognition, donations were presented from the BNSF Railway Foundation to three area non-profit organizations.


BNSF and Gallup have ties dating back to 19th century


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


The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (Santa Fe) selected Gallup as a division point in 1895 and built shops, repair facilities and a depot hotel. Gallup was incorporated on July 9, 1891 and the A&P was sold at foreclosure to the Santa Fe in 1897.


Gallup’s early economy centered on coal mining. Gallup is located at the center of the Gallup-Zuni coal field and from 1886 to 1903, the area produced the most coal in New Mexico. 


Gallup was also located near the Navajo Nation, Zuni Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo and Laguna Pueblo and became a center for Native American arts and crafts. Route 66 came through Gallup in 1926 and many Indian Trading Posts were built to attract tourists traveling on the highway.



View of the Santa Fe yard and part of Gallup in March 1943. Photo by Jack Delano.


View of the Santa Fe yard and part of Gallup in March 1943. Photo by Jack Delano.


The Santa Fe Super Chief between Belen and Gallup, N.M. in March 1943. Photo by Jack Delano.


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.


The "El Navajo" hotel, in Gallup. To the left of the hotel is the passenger depot.


Another view of the El Navajo hotel.


This is an architectural rendering by E. A. Harrison, the Santa Fe’s chief architect, for the El Navajo Hotel in Gallup. The rendering was based on Mary Colter’s designs. 


Mary Colter, a prolific 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 of some of her other work. Instead, she used 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.


A BNSF intermodal train west of Gallup. Photo courtesy of Dave Traudt.

A BNSF intermodal train east of Gallup. Photo courtesy of Dave Traudt.


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 means freight containers are switched between these different modes of transportation – ships, trains and trucks -- on their journey from suppliers to consumers, carrying goods that we use every day such as clothes, electronics and vehicles. BNSF’s Gallup Subdivision covers track from Belen, N.M. to Winslow, Ariz.