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Quay County, New Mexico, Place Names

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ADBERG. On CRI&P RR, 5 miles NE of Tucumcari. Family name of first settler.

AHMEGO. Post Office 1908-1913. Changed to LOCKNEY.

ALAMOGORDO CREEK. "alamogordo" spanish for "large cottonwood". tributary of the Pecos River called ALAMOQUADO CREEK from its head in west Quay County to the settlement of ALAMO.

ALAMOSA CREEK Rises S of Ima; flows SE to Curryy County line, turns and flows SW to enter Taiban Creek just W of the De Baca County line.

ALLEN. Post Office 1906-1916.

APACHE CANYON On NM 88, 6 miles N of its junction with NM 18. Some say that the last Apache Indian killed by cattlemen was slain near the mouth of the canyon on a small hill. Others say the canyon is so named because it was the Apache's favorite spot for attack on wagon trains, as this was the only trail leading from the caprock to the valley.

APACHE CITY Former settlement, 30 miles S of Tucumcari. Townsite and sale of lots about 1907.

ARD Post Office 1907-1914

ATARQUE Spanish for "diversion dam". Founded in 1884. First settlers were Juan Garcia and hismother, Senora Cecelia Garcia, who built a dam on the natural lake, developing a water tank for stock. Name may be related to "atarquinar" which means " to fill up with mud". The word was used for an earthen dam, and was extended later to mean any dam across a small stream.

BARANCOS Spanish for "gorge". Post Office 1906-1912.

BARD Farming and ranching community 28 miles E of Tucumcari, near US 66 and CRI&P RR First named Bard City when townsite was laid out in 1906. Walter R Haynes recalls that this was a transfer name from a small watermelon loading place in Texas which his father had named Baard because of a group of wandering music makers who held dances here. Post Office, 1908.


BLANCO CREEK Rises in Quay County and flows east through Curry County; named for the canyon through which it flows.

BLUE HOLE 5 miles north of Tucumcari. Blue pools on pioneer trail to Las Vegas.

BRAKES Post Office 1907-1909; mail to Norton.

CAMERON On NM 39, near Curry County line, 6 miles north of Grady. Arthur H. Cameron, first postmaster. Post Office, 1908 - . Formerly called Wheatland.

CANODE Former community on CRI&P RR, 5 miles NE of Logan. Post Office, 1908-1914. Now only a railroad siding.


CASTLEBERRY First postmaster, Ritta Castleberry. Post Office 1910-1915. Changes to LESBIA.

CHICAL CREEK Named for burnt charcoal from Native American camps along the creek.

CIRCLE S MESA 15 miles south of Tucumcari and about 12 miles west of NM 18. Once the headquarters of the Circle S Ranch, one of the famed brands of pioneer ranches of the region. The Circle S Ranch has long since passed into oblivion, but the mesa is still a monument to its name.

COLLINSVILLE - First postmaster, Absalom G Collins, Post Office 1908 to 1912; mail to Ima.

COMANCHE TRAIL - An oldNative American tail north from Clovis to San Jon, used by Comanches to hunt buffalo. In pioneer days, US immigrants followed it despite the raids.

COWAN - Post Office 1908 to 1912.

CRAZY PEAK - 12 miles south of Tucumcari and about 8 miles west of NM 18. Named for an incident that happened in the early days. A pioneer and his wife came from the East and settled in the valley near the peak. The woman, unaccustomed to the vast country, with its overpowering silences and its extremes in weather, became demented. One day her husband missed her from their home, and after a long search finally found her body lying at the base of a high bluff on the north side of the peaked hill from which she had jumped. From that time the peak has been known as Crazy Peak.

CURRY - Post Office 1907 to 1921; mail to Lucille.

DODSON - 12 miles SW of Tucumcari, Post Office 1901 to 1916.

DORIS - Post Ocffice 1908 to 1913.

ENDEE - Ranching and farming community on US 66, served by CRI&P RR, 37 miles east of Tucumcari. Name is said to have been adopted from the brand of the ND Ranch established by the Day brothers, John E and George, in 1882. The two letters in the brand were joined so that the straight line forming the right side of the N also became the straight line forming the front end of the D. Post Office, 1886 to 1955.

FORD - Post Office 1907 to 1910; mail to House.

FORREST - Farming and ranching community on NM 18, 36 miles south of Tucumcari. Named for Forrest Farr, son of thge first postmaster and storekeeper, Watt Farr, who moved here from Missouriwith his family in 1907. When a new school building was constructed in 1928, Forrest was moved 1 mile north of its first location. Neighboring communities, including Plain, Stockton, Kirk, and Frio were started in the early days, but only Forrest survuved. Post Ofgfice 1908 to 1919, and 1932 to the present.

FORT BASCOM - In a horseshoe bend on the south side of the Canadian River, 12 miles north of Tucumcari. Established iun 1863 under the direction of Brig. General James H Carleton, then acting commander of the Military Department of New Mexico. Built on land leased from the owners of old Pablo Montoya Grant. Named to perpetuate the memory of gallant Capt. George N. Bascom, 16th US Infantry, who fell at the Battle of Valverde on February 27, 1862. Fort Bascom was abandoned by the military in 1870, the land reverting to the owner, John SD. Watts, from whom the government had leased the site. The soldiers were moved to Fort Union. Post Office, 1874 to 1892. Name changed to Johnson.

FRIO - Community shown on 1936 map, 3 miles northwest of Forrest. Post Office, 1919 to 1922. See Forrest.

FROST - Post Office 1909 to 1910; mail to Porter.

GLENRIO - English "glen" plus spanish river "rio". One of the rare combinations of English and Spanish to create a place name. On US 66, 41 miles east of Tucumcari, on the Texas state lline. Founded in 1903, when CRI&P RR was built here. Post Office 1916 to the present.

GOTERA - Spanish for "drip"

GRAVEL PIT - Named in 1906 when CRI&P RR started mining gravel for its own use.

HANLEY - Post Office 1907 to 1918

HARGIS - On SP RR, 6 miles west of Tucumcari, just west of Tucumcari Metropolitan Park. Named for settlers.

HARRIS - First postmaster, Otto W Harris. Post Office 1908 to 1918.

HARTFORD - Post Office 1907 to 1910; mail to Looney.

HASSEL - Ranching community in southwest corner of Quaycounty, 20 miles northeast of Ft. Sumner. First postmaster, John W Hassel, Post Office 1907 to 1948.

HOUSE - An agricultural and ranching community on NM 86, 33 miles northwest of Melrose. Named for either Lucie J House, who in December 1902 settled on the 160 acres where House is now located, or for John L House who built the first grocery store in 1904. First postmaster, Lucie J House. Post Office 1906 to present day.

HUDSON - On SP RR and US 54, 11 miles southwest of Logan. Started when CRI&P RR built a line between Dalhart, Texas and Santa Rosa in 1901. First called Revuelto and known as a railroad switch; then named Hudson, for a civil war veteran who lived there. Post Office 1908 to 1926.

IMA - Farming and ranching community on NM 156, 12 miles south of Montoya and 26 miles southwest of Tucumcari. In 1902. I.W.Moncus, with his wife, daughter, and brother in law, settled in the canyon used by the notorious, Black Jack Ketchum, for a hideout. In 1908, farmers came into the community, filing on each 110 acres of land. In 1909, Moncus established a store. He named the post office for his oldest daughter. Post Office, 1908 to 1955.

JONESVILLE - First postmaster, Joseph C. Jones. Post Office, 1908 to 1911; mail to Pleano.

JORDAN - Southwest part of county, on US 156, 28 miles south of Tucumcari. Named for Jim Jordan, who established the post office, 1907 to 1955. From 1902 to 1909, the locality was the scene of constant fights between cattlemen and sheepmen. Homesteaders came later.

KAPPU - First postmaster, Anthony Kappus, Post Office 1910 to 1913.

KIRK - Post Office 1908 to 1921. See FORREST.

LESBIA - On CRI&P RR, 9 miles east of Tucumcari. Named when the railroad started through Amarillo, Texas, to Tucumcari in 1901-1902, and knows as a railroad switch. Transfer name from an Aegean island famed as the home of the Greek poetess Sapho. Formerly called RUDOLPH. From 1910 to 1913, as CASTLEBERRY, for the first postmaster. Post Office 1914 to 1918.

LIBERTY - A roaring cowtown in the 18970's on Pajarito Creek. It was the mecca for cowpunchers a hundred miles around. Now, not even a ghost town, as it has vanished completely from its location 3 miles from the present city of Tucumcari. The settlement died when the railroad came to Tucumcari in 1901.

LLANO ESTACADO - "llano" is the spanish word for the geography "plain" , thence "staked plains" in spanish.There has been considerable debate both as to the origin and meaning of this colorful term for a great plateau stretching from the Canadian River in NM and Oklahoma south for 400 miles. The Pecos River is, roughly the western edge of the Staked Plains, and the Palo Duro Canyon, 200 miles away, is the eastern border line. Curving along the north and west rim is the caprock, like a stockade or "estacada" in spanish, "palisade, fence". This rough barrier made the canyons and grassed areas a refuge for game and wild horses, and pasture land for cattle. Other explanations for the name have ranged from the yucccas as "stakes" in the eare to the belief that caravan trains from Chihuahua to Arkansas marked their trail with stakes. The name does not appear in the map of 1849.

LOCKNEY - Former settlement 15 miles west of Nara Visa, near the Quay Harding county line. Post Office 1909 to 1935.

LOGAN - Ranching community, 24 miles northeast of Tucumcari, on NM 39 and US 54. Named in honor of a Captain Logan of the Texas Rangers. Post Office 1901 to present day.


LOONEY - First postmaster, Henry J Looney. Post Office, 1908 to 1913; changed to WOODROW.

LOYD - Post Office 1906 to 1914.


LUCIANA, LOUISIANA MESA - Large Mesa connected by a narrow strip of land to the Llano Estacado, 20 miles southwest of Tucumcari. The people at Bell Ranch say Luciano is the old name corrupted in recent times to Louisiana, and that it was owned by a pioneer5 Spanish settler named Luisiano or Luciano.

LUCILLE - Post Office 1911 to 1934; previously ORTON

MATER - 17 miles northest of Tucumcari on US 54, between Logan and Hudson. Started when CRI&P RR put in the line to Dalhart, Texas, and Santa Rosa in 1901. The name is a family name.

MCALISTER - Farming community on NM 86, 36 miles south of Tucumcari and 19 miles NE of Tolas. Named for A.I. McAlister, who built the first store and whose wife was the first postmaster. Post Office 1907 to present day.

MESA PINCA or PINCO MESA - "Mesa " is the spanish word describing a high plateau. "orphan sheep" an exprerssion to an orphan calf. It is 3 miles west of Quay.

MESA REDONDO - Spanish for "round mesa". A high flat topped mountain towering above the surrounding valley, 6 miles west of Norton. Covers ten or twelve sections of land that are excellent cattle range. It was the hangout of the Spikes gang of outlaws and cattle thieves, which was broken up by cattlemen and posses in the early 18900's.

MINEOSA - Possibly a mis spelling of "miniosa" spanish for "containing minio, red lead". Near the Quay Union County border, 9 miles northwest of Nara Visa. Post Office 1908 to 1913.

MONTOYA - Bartolome de Montoya, a Spaniard who married Maria de Zamora in Mexico City, came with his family to Santa Fe in 1600. The marriages of his 5 children and their descendants are recorded in the growing Spanish colony. Also known as Lucero Montoya. A farming and ranching community on US 54 and 66, 21 miles west of Tucumcari. Established in 1902 when CRI&P RR built a siding here. Formerly called ROUNTREE. Post Office 1902 to present day.

MOORE - Postmaster John A Moore, Post Office 1903 to 1912

MURDOCK - 12 miles northwest of Melrose. Post Office 1907 to 1917.

NARA VISA - The spanish surname "Narvis" may be the corruption of the spanish surname "Narvaez", which residents in the area pronounce "Nara Visa". The settlement is on US 54 and NM 18, and also the CRI&P RR. Established in 1902 with the building of CRI&P RR through tQuay County to Tucumcari. Named for the creek. Post Office 1902 to present day.

NARA VISA CREEK - Tributary of the Canadian River. Named for Spanish sheep herder "Narvis", who lived on the creek in the late 1800's.

NORTON - Former ranching and farming community on NM 88, 20 miles southeast of Tucumcari. Named for Michael J. Norton, who established a store here in 1907 and became the first postmaster, Post Office 1907 to 1941.

OBAR - Settlement on NM 54, 8 miles southwest of Nara Visa. Formerly called PERRY, then Obar for the Circle ABar Ranch, whose brand is a circle with a bar under it. The owner of the ranch was named Howrey. Settlement started 1906-1907. Prior to that, the spot was a switch on CRI&P RR. Post Office 1908 to 1953.

OGLE - Settlers by this name operated a grocery store whenthere was a post office there, 15 miles southwest of Tucumcari, Post Office, 1906 to 1913.

OJO DEL CARNERO - Ojo is a an archaic spanish term for slow flowing water or spring. Carnero is the term for sheep. In the Plaza Larga arrea of east Tucumcari. Named because of the wild sheep that came to water here.

ORTON - Post Office 1908 to 1911; changed to LUCILLE.

PAJARITO CREEK - Pajarito is spanish for small bird. It is also a Native American surname in the Cebolleta land Grant area. Creek rises in Guadalupe County and flows northeast to the Canadian River.

PALOMAS - "doves or pidgeons". 15 miles west of Tucumcari. Railroad switch for passing trains when CRI&P RR built its line in 1901-1902 between Dalhart, Texas, and Santa Rosa.

PALOMAS HILLS - 1 mile south of Palomas

PERRY - Post Office 1907 to 1908. See OBAR

PETRIFIED FORET - 6 miles southwest of Tucumcari, and 1 mile south of US 66. Logs and fragments of petrified wood lie on the ground although they have been greatly depleted by souvenir hunters.

PLAZA - Spanish for town square. Post Office 1908 to 1911; mail to Tucumcari.

PLAZA LARGO CREEK - Spanish for long or large town square. Runs north from center of Quay county to join Revuelto River at US 66, between Tucumcari and San Jon. Named for its appearance of a dry flat. However, in rainy seasons it becomes a raging stream.

PLEANO - Post Office 1907 to 1914.

PLEASANT VALLEY - 17 miles east of Atarque.

PORTER - On NM 392, 8 miles north of San Jon. Named for a family that began settlement here. First postmaster, Mary Porter. Post Office 1908 to 1915.

PRAIRIE VIEW - Post Office 1908 to 1915.

PUERTO - 18 miles southeast of Tucumcari. Post Office 1901 to 1918.

QUAY - Ranching community on NM 18, 17 miles south of Tucumcari. Established in 1902 by Mr. Adams. It is not known whether the place was named for the county or for Quay Flat on which it is located. The town was moved 1 mile southeast of its first location in 1917. Post Office 1904 to present day.

QUAY COUNTY - Created January 28, 1903. The name of Matthew S Quay, US Senator from Pennsylvania, 1887-1904, seems to have played a part in all of these names.

RAGLAND - Formerly CAPROCK. Trading point on NM 18, 25 miles south of Tucumcari. Named in 1906 for a Mr. Ragland, who filed a claimon which a small store and post office were erected. First postmaster, Maud Ragland. Post Office 1908 to 1917.

RANA - Spanish for "grog". Settlement 28 miles northeast of Tucumcari, and 12 miles northwest of Glenrio. Said to be one name of the ranch upon which the post office was established. 1908 to 1925.

RANA CANYON - Heads north of Bard; runs northeast into the Canadian River.

REVUELTO - Spanish for overturn or scrambled. Post Office 1897 to 1916. See Hudson.

REVUELTO CREEK - Flows north into Revuelto River 6 miles east of Lesbia.

REVUELTO RIVER - Flows northeast into the Canadian River near Logan.

RICE - First postmaster, Clara S Rice. Post Office 1907 to 1908; changed to HUDSON

ROCK ISLAND - Post Office 1909 to 1915; changed to GLENRIO

ROOSEVELT - 4 miles southwest of McAlister, near the Quay Roosevelt County line. Post Office 1906 to 1919.

RUDULPH - First postmanster, Carolina Rudulph. Post Office, 1908 to 1910; changed to CASTLEBERRY

SADDLEBACK MESA - 15 miles south of Tucumcari and 7 miles west of NM 18. Named for its peculiar shape, which resembles that of a saddle. The headwaters of Plaza Largo Creek.

SALADITO CREEK - Spanish for "little salty". Rises south of Tipton, and flows northeast into San Jon Creek.

SAND SPRINGS - 32 miles northeast of Tucumcari, on CRI&P RR

SAN JON - It is possibly a corruption of the spanish "zanjon" which meand "deep gully. Rancing and farming town on US 66, 23 miles east of Tucumcari on CRI&P RR. Tom Jones built the first building here in 1902. Construction of the railroad in 1904 caused the town to boom. Named in October 1906 by W.D.Bennett, the first postmaster. Post Office 1906 to present

SAN JON CREEK - Flows northeast from San Jon to cross the Texas state line north of Glenrio. Appears as San Jon on US Geological survey map of 1955, but as San Juan on a General Land Office Map in 1936.

SAN JUAN CANYON - Flows northest into San Jon river at San Jon.



TIPTON - On Salidita Creek, 6 miles south of Jon. Post Office, 1909 to 1913.

TRAGUES CREEK - Rises in Union County near Ione, and flows southeast across the northeastern corner of Quay county to Texas.

TRENTON - Post Office 1907 to 1908; mail to Hollene.

TUCUMCARI - County seat and commercial center on US 54 and 66. Named for Tucumcari Mountain. Although there was a settlementcalled LIBERTY 3 miles north on Pajarito Creek, as early as 1882, the city was not founded until 1902 when the CRI&P RR was built. For a brief peroiod during construction camp days in 1901, the name was SIX SHOOTER SIDING. The building of the SP RR extension road and the irrigation district from Conchas Reservoir hav e been important to the area. There are a couple of versions with regard to the name. A folk tale credited to Geronimo relates that an Apache Indian maiden Named Kari had a sweetheart, Tocom, who was slain by TOnapon, a rival. After the death of Tocom, Kari is said to have killed Tonapon and then taken her own life. Whereupon, Wautonomah, her father stabbed himself crying "Tocom! Kari!". The Tucumcari area however is Comanche territory. The most convincing explanation is contributed by Elliott Canonge, Oklahoma linguist, who writes that the name is Comanche "tukamukaru" "to lie in wait for something approoaching". According to the Comanche, this particular mountain was frequently used as a lookout by Comanche war parties. Post Office 1902 to the present.

TUCUMCARI CREEK - Formed by Plaza Larga, Barranca and other creeks which join east of Lesbia; flows north into the Canadian River.

TUSCOCOCILLO CANYON - Heads near Porter and runs north into the Canadian River.


UTE CREEK - Rises southwest part of Union County and flows south to join the Canadian Red River in Quay County. Named for the Ute Native Americans. Some old maps call it ALAMO CREEK.

VIGIL - The earliest record of the Vigil surname is that of Francisco Montes Vigil and his wife came to Santa Fe as early as 1695, and in 1710 received a land grant. 18 miles southeast of the Conchas Reservoir, 14 miles west of Tucumcari.

WEST - Surname of the first postmaster, James T West, Post Office 1908 to 1925.

WHEATLAND - Old trading point on NM 39, 25 miles south of San Jon. Settled above 1915. Name selected by ballot among members of three school districts when these were consolidated; North Bend, a school built and started by an early settler, W.R.Brown, in 1915; Blair School, 1/2 mile from present site; and Forrest School, several miles to the southwest. Now known as CAMERON.

WOODROW - Post Office 1914 to 1916; mail to Tucumcari. See LOONEY.

Source: New Mexico Place Names, A Geographical Dictionary. T.M. Pearce, Ina Sizer Cassidy, Helen S pearce; The University of New Mexico Press, 1965. LCCC No. 64-17808.