About San Jon, New Mexico
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 4,032 ft (1,229 m). Population: 306 (2000).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6).
San Jon is the first town in New Mexico along Route 66 coming from Texas. It is located in Quay county, on the eastern part of the state.
This part of New Mexico is very close to the Clovis site where very old stone tools (over 13,000 years old) have been found, an indication of its very long history.
The area was later explored by the Spanish, who introduced the horse (1500s), the local Querecho Apaches adopted it. By the mid-1800s, Kiowa and Kiowa Apache together with the Comanche dominated the region and fought with the U.S. Army and white settlers until subdued in the mid 1870s.
Soon cattle ranches were established in the region and the railway pushed westwards, reaching San Jon in 1904. The town had been established two years earlier.
It was named by its first postmaster, W. D. Bennet in 1906. Some stores took care of the local ranching community's needs, and got a big boost when Route 66 was aligned through the town in 1926.
The Name: San Jon
It is a rather odd name as it uses a Spanish language word "San" (Saint) followed by Jon (Jon is a shortened form of the name Jonathan and also John in some countries). But in Spanish there is no name like "Jon", there is only "Juan" (John)
The fact that the San Jon Creek which flows northeast from San Jon into Texas near Glenrio, figures as "San Juan" in the General Land Office Map of 1936, hints at a deformation of the Spanish name "San Juan" (Saint John).
Another version says that it is a corruption of the word "Zanjón", Spanish for ditch or gully. But it seems improbable.
Service stations, motels and diners were established to cater to the tourists travelling along Route 66.
When I-40 was built, bypassing San Jon in 1981, business declined along Route 66 as it relocated to the Interstate interchange to the north.
It is now a small town just south of I-40 crossed by NM-469 and Old Route 66.
View of San Jon, looking north from the caprock escarpment of the Llano Estacado
Where to Stay
Book your hotel near San Jon
There are several hotels in nearby towns along Route 66
Lodging Near San Jon along Route 66
- 24 miles. Motels and Hotels in Tucumcari.
- 84 miles. Motels and Hotels in Santa Rosa.
- 161 miles. Motels and Hotels in Moriarty.
- 200 miles. Motels and Hotels in Albuqerque.
The Santa Fe Route 66 segment
>> There are RV campgrounds close to San Jon.
Weather in San Jon
This region is a relatively dry region. Summers are hot but lower temperature during the night makes them bearable.
The mean annual temperature is 59°F (15°C). Average high for summer (Jul) is 93°F (34°C), and for winter (Jan) 53°F (11.9°C). The average low in summer is 66°F (18.8°C) and in winter it is below freezing at 25°F (-3.8°C).
Rainfall is scarce, with most falling during summer (8 inches from June to Aug.), in total, on average, 18.2 inches (461 mm) fall annualy.
Snow: Snow falls in this region at any time between September and May (the first snowfall takes place usually, on the first week of December). The higher altitude provokes more snowfall than in locations further east: Snowfall averages around 21 inches (53 cm), with most falling during Dec. and Jan. (6 and 5 inches - 12.7 and 15 cm). But some snow storms may take place with over 40 inches of snow (1 m.).
San Jon has a very low tornado risk, with only three (3) Tornado watches every year.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to San Jon
Heading west from San Jon down Route 66 is Tucumcari (24 mi.) and two small hamlets: Newkirk (57 mi.) and Cuervo (66 mi.), then comes Santa Rosa (84 mi.). Further ahead are Albuquerque (200 mi.) and Gallup (339 mi). To the northwest is Santa Fe (218 mi.)
Map of San Jon and Route66
Map of San Jon and Route 66 in New Mexico.
Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment; Red line: I-40 & I-25 where they overlap the old alignment.
See Route 66's alignment in Texas
Remove or restore State shading
Route 66 itinerary to San Jon
Route 66 in New Mexico
Click to read the Full description of Route 66 across New Mexico.
Below we give information on Route 66's 1926 alignment near San Jon, which is Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Santa Fe Loop (1926 - 1937)
Visit our Santa Fe Loop page which describes the complete 1926 to 1937 alignment of Route 66 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque through Pecos, Santa Fe and Bernalillo.
San Jon, New Mexico: Attractions & Sights
Things to Do and See
San Jon, its Attractions
San Jon is a small town straddling Route 66 (Listed in the National Register of Historic Places) and NM-469, it has some old vintage garages and motels, one of them still in operation. Near the ghost towns of Endee and Bard and close to the Llano Estacado caprock.
There are two ghost towns to the east heading along Route 66 towards Glenrio on the TX - NM state line, which we detail below.
Vintage Route 66 Garage in San Jon, New Mexico
Tours & Itineraries
Nearby Route 66 Towns
Visit, to the east, the nearby town of Glenrio (on the Texas state line).
The Old alignment of Route 66 near San Jon
Glenrio to San Jon Historic Route 66
Route 66, San Jon, NM.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
This is the historic segment of Route 66 from Glenrio to San Jon.
See its Street View and location map.
The segment extends from Glenrio on the Texas - New Mexico state line to Saint Jon, spanning 18 miles. The road was commissioned in 1926 and followed the tracks of the now defunct Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. It was the original alignment to San Jon until 1952 when it was replaced by the newer alignment (now I-40).
It was paved in the early 1930s, but nowadays is only paved for a very short distance (half a mile) from the Texas state line and then becomes a gravel surfaced road because Quay County removed the paving to cut maintenance costs.
Read about the Texas alignment of Historic Route 66 from Amarillo to Glenrio, including the Glenrio segment of the road.
The countryside is a semi-arid rangeland with rolling hills. The old railway can be seen near the road. It has several concrete culverts crossing the many streams that criss cross the area. There are four bridges east of Endee built in creosote-treated timber and were common in the 1920s and used to cross shallow rivers.
A Ghost Town
Detail of map showing Route 66 and Endee, NM; Credits.
Elevation 3,829 ft. (1.168 m). See map with its location.
It is located 4.7 miles west of Glenrio, along the old Route 66.
The Day brothers, John E. and George, and Mr. Norris established a ranch named after their initials: "N D" in the area in the early 1880s. A post office opened in 1886 and was closed in 1955.
The Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway crossed the region in the early 1900s, loading cattle at its siding. The small town was renown for its rowdy cowboys and their gunfights. The original houses were built with poles and sod roofs.
The Post office closed in 1955 and now some derelict buildings mark the spot.
Endee, the name
It took its name from the ND ranch brand.
A Ghost Town
Elevation 4,290 ft. (1.304 m). See map with its location.
Bard, the name
A Celtic word, found in Scottish Gaelic ("bàrd) and Welsh ("bardd"). It was used as a term to designate an itinerant musician.
Located on the old alignment of Route 66 12.9 miles west of Glenrio
The townsite was established in 1906, next to a siding of the CRI&G Railroad (Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad). A post office opened in 1908.
There are two versions about the origin of its name: one says that it derived from the Bar-D ranch brand, the other that one of its first settlers, a Mr. Haynes, named it after a water-melon railway siding in Texas.
It served the local farming and ranching community and in its early days was a very wild cowboy town where gunfigths were not uncommon. In 1926 Route 66 was aligned through it.
In the mid 1940s it had a gas station and a store. The population once reached 195 residents, but declined after I-40 was built, bypassing the small village. Today it is a ghost town.
See Image above.
Roughly 9 miles south of San Jon, along NM-469 is the northern escarpment of the Llano Estacado, Spanish words that mean "Palisaded Plain".
The name originates from the appearance of the high plateau when seen from the surrounding prairies: the caprock appears like a wall, a palisade.
The Canadian River marks its northern border and the Caprock Escarpment, a 300 ft (100 m) cliff surrounds it to the north and east. The Mescalero Escarpment marks its western edge along the Pecos River. Towards the south it blends into the Texan Edwards Plateau.
It is one of the largest mesas (tablelands) in the U.S., roughly 250 miles (400 km) north to south, and 150 miles (240 km) east to west, spanning part of Texas and New Mexico.
Its red sediments are of Triassic and Permian origin.
National and State Parks
Ute Lake State Park
25 miles north of San Jon via NM-469 and US-54 to Logan, NM and then NM-540 to the lake. (Map with directions).
Contact: 1800 540 Loop Logan, NM, Website, (575) 487-2284.
The reservoir on the Canadian River is 13 miles long and offers many options for water sports: fishing, boating, swimming. There are campgrounds and RV facilities too.
Robert Julyan. 1996, The Place Names of New Mexico. UNM Press
Image in the Public Domain, by Leaflet
Original artwork by A. Whittall based on Google Street View Imagery.
Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.