About Santo Domingo Pueblo (Kewa), New Mexico
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 5,200 ft (1.586 m). Population: 2,550 (2000).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6).
Santo Domingo or "Kewa Pueblo" as it is now known, is a census-designated-place and village in Sandoval County. It was located on the alignment of Route 66 from 1926 to 1932.
Santo Domingo Trading Post in 1971
The Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico has been inhabited for over 10,000 years (the site at Sandia Cave is clear proof of this). The pueblo's Native Americans belong to a group who speak an eastern dialect of the Keresan languages. The Keresans lived in the region around Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde until 1200 A.D., but the climatic change caused social upheaval and they migrated to the historic pueblos near the Rio Grande and other rivers that flowed south from the Rocky Mountains. They used this water to irrigate their crops of squash and corn.
The Spanish explored New Mexico in the mid 1500s when Francisco Vásquez de Coronado named the native people "Pueblo", after the Spanish word for "village".
During his expedition on 1598 Juan de Oñate reported several Pueblo villages along the native trade route that bordered the Rio Grande River and one of them was the Pueblo of Santo Domingo.
The original site of the pueblo was actually two villages which wer named "Gipuy" (Alphonse Bandelier recorded the name "Quigui" in the 1880s), and were located about two miles east of the Domingo railway station on the Galisteo River.
A flood later destroyed the villages so the natives relocated it to the current site on the Rio Grande and renamed the pueblo "Khe-wa" (now Kewa Pueblo).
Origin of the name Santo Domingo
The Spaniards used the names of Catholic saints, the Virign Mary to name their towns in America, In this case they used the name of Santo Domingo (Saint Dominic, 1170 - 1221), a Spanish saint and founder of the Dominican Order.
In 2009, the pueblo officially changed its name to Kewa Pueblo.
The Spanish "Camino Real" (or Royal Highway) linked it to Santa Fe in the north and Mexico City in the south. The Spaniards set up their headquarters in Santo Domingo for the province of Queres, which comprised pueblo San Felipe and Pueblo Cochiti. The Franciscans established a mission in Santo Domingo in 1607 and their supervisor set is headquarters there in 1610.
The opressive practices of the Spanish and the persecution of their religion led to an uprising, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, which led to the expulsion of the Spanish from New Mexico.
They returned in force in 1692 and the natives from Santo Domingo moved out and joined those at Jemez Pueblo to resist the invaders. They were unsuccessful. The pueblo and mission were re-established in 1700
The original mission was destroyed by a flood and crumbled in 1886.
After its independence from Spain, Nueva Mexico passed on to Mexico, but lost it after the Mexican - American War (1846-48), ceding it to the United States. During the Civil War, the Confederate troops were active in the area in 1862 but were forced to withdraw.
Meeting of cultures
The late 1800s brought progress to the Territory and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad reached the area in the 1880s. they built a station close to the pueblo now named Domingo and Kewa Pueblo became a well known tourist destination. Entrepreneurs brought in the American tourists and the locals produced crafts, pottery and jewelery and sold them to the tourists (see the photo of a 1906 Indian crafts peddler below).
Route 66 was aligned through the area between Santa Fe and Albuquerque in 1926, and the practice continued, but now selling to the motorists; a contemporary witness wrote: "For over fifty miles one can find Santo Domingo Indians scattered along this road at short intervals, holding up every traveler with a plea to buy ware....". But in 1932 the road shifted further left (to current US 85 alignment) and in 1937 the Mother Road was realigned along a shorter alignment, the "Santa Fe Cut-off" relegated Santo Domingo as the new highway linked Santa Rosa with Albuquerque and bypassed the pueblo.
Where to Stay
There is lodging along Route 66 near Santo Domingo in Santa Fe and Albuquerque:
Lodging Near Santo Domingo along Route 66
Heading West on the Main alignment..
- 44 miles. Motels and Hotels in Albuquerque.
- 98 miles. Motels and Hotels in Acoma Pueblo.
- 116 miles. Motels and Hotels in Grants.
- 177 miles. Motels and Hotels in Gallup.
Heading East main Route 66....
- 66 miles.Motels and Hotels in Moriarty
- 135miles. Motels and Hotels in Santa Rosa.
- 193 miles. Motels and Hotels in Tucumcari.
The Santa Fe Route 66 segment
>> There are RV campgrounds near Santo Domingo Pueblo.
Weather in Santo Domingo Pueblo
The climate in Santo Domingo is semi-arid, it has cold winters and hot summers. Altitude and the dry air cause large the daily temperature swings of around 25°F (14°C).
The average high temperature in Summer (July) is 85.9°F (29.9°C), and the average low is about 54.4°F (9.7°C). The winter average high is (Jan) 43.5°F (6.4°C) and the avg. low is about 17.5°F (-8.1°F).
Rainfall is scarce, 14.2 in (360 mm) per year. Most falls during summer (June to late Sept.) during the "North American Monsoon". There are roughly 65 days with precipitation per year.
Snow falls between October and March with up to 23 inches (58 cm) yearly.
The tornado risk in Santo Domingo is nil, there are no Tornado watches in the county.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Santo Domingo Pueblo
Santo Domingo Pueblo lies on the original 1926 alignment of Route 66 and is linked to the modern alignment at both ends of the "Santo Fe Loop": Albuquerque, to the south and through Santa Fe and Las Vegas NM, to Santa Rosa, Tucumcari and Glenrio which is located on the Texas ⁄ New Mexico state line.
Further west is Gallup and Arizona.
Map of Santo Domingo Pueblo and Route66
Map of Santo Domingo Pueblo and Route 66 in New Mexico.
Pale Blue: Historic 1926 Route 66 alignment; Red line:US 84 & I-25 where they overlap the old alignment.
Black: the rest of Route 66.
See Route 66's alignment in Texas
Remove or restore State shading
Route 66 itinerary through Santo Domingo
Route 66 in New Mexico
Click to read the Full description of Route 66 across New Mexico.
The Santa Fe Loop (1926 - 1937)
Our Santa Fe Loop page describes the complete 1926 to 1937 alignment of Route 66 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque through Pecos, Santa Fe and Bernalillo.
Below is full information on Route 66's 1926 alignment in Santo Domingo.
Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico: Attractions & Sights
Things to Do and See
Santo Domingo Pueblo its Attractions
Kewa Pueblo (Santo Domingo) is a traditional Pueblo village with Native American handicrafts and jewelry. The old pueblo with its ceremonial dances is the main attraction as is the Old Santo Domingo Trading Post on the 1926-1932 Route 66 alignment.
A Sandomingo pedler [i.e. Santo Domingo peddler] 1906 photograph
Important rules of etiquette during your visit to a Pueblo
Pueblos are on tribal lands and the local customs, religion and traditions must be respected.
- Check that access is allowed (leaders may restrict access for private ceremonies) and be prepared to pay an access fee.
- Photography. Taking photos may be totally prohibited or a permit may be required. Check with the Tribal Office. Even if you have a permit, always request permission before taking a photo of a tribal member. Leave your cell phone out of sight and silence it, as it could be confiscated.
- Don't litter. Don't carry or use alcohol or drugs.
- "Off Limits" signs must be respected. Don't remove artifacts or pottery shards.
- Don't speed. Respect traffic signs.
- Respect the local people. Dances are not a show, they are a ceremony. Show respect and remain silent at all ceremonies.
- Cemeteries, Kivas, ceremonial rooms are sacred places and entry is not allowed for non-Pueblo people.
Pueblo of Santo Domingo (Kewa Pueblo)
NM 22, Kewa Pueblo, NM.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
The adobe pueblo has been inhabited by Native Americans for centuries, and later colonized by the Spanish in 1598. A historic and traditional village.
See its Map
The original pueblo was built around a central Plaza but the flooding by the Rio Grande destroyed the village and after the devastating 1886 flood, it was rebuilt. The pueblo now has a wide central street with long blocks of houses (built in adobe) lining it.
The surviving buildings were incorporated into the new town which has two "Kivas", circular ceremonial rooms. A church built in 1890 in Mission-style is located on the edge of the Pueblo.
A vintage Route 66 postcard showing the Corn Dance at Kewa Pueblo from the 1940s
The postcard was printed during the 1940s, and its caption reads: "Santo Domingo Pueblo NM - The Koshare in the Corn Dance". The description on its back says:
"According to the ancient legend, when the Indians first came into this country, they were almost overcome by hunger and thirst. The Gods, in order to make them forget their privation, painted one of their number white and decorated him most fantastically, and then caused him to dance and cut up capers before the exhausted people, who, on seeing him broke into laughter and once more took courage. This man, they called "Koshare" (i.e. Dancing-Man, or as Bandelier calls him, Delight-Maker). The Koshare of the present day are an Indian secret society and have since prehistoric times been very influential. During certain Indian dances, they paint up as the first Koshare did long ago, to the great delight of the Indians present.".
For thousands of years the ancestors of the Pueblo Indians have farmed the soil of New Mexico, and their ceremonies seek to achieve a cosmic balance and obtain the life-giving rain for their crops.
The "Kachinas" are immortal beings that bridge the gap between the spiritual and real worlds and are key religious figures.
The two main events are the Corn Dance in August and the Hunting Dance in February. Don't miss them.
This is the day that honors Santo Domingo (St. Dominic), the town's patron saint and it is the Pueblo's annual feast day. The pueblo people participate with the Corn Danece.
After the arrival of the railway in the 1880s, entrepreneurs promoted the Pueblo culture to tourists who reached the town via the station located at Domingo, 2 miles east of the pueblo. Later Route 66 passed right beside it and even more tourists arrived to experience their culture.
Visit the Museum and the Cultural Center too.
Arts and Native Crafts
The Labor Day weekend is when the annual Santo Domingo Arts and Crafts Market is held. Over 350 local artists and craftsmen and women exhibit and sell their work.
The local artisans are best known for their hishi, pottery and turquoise jewelery.
Domingo, the "ghost town"
When the AT&SF railroad built its line into Albuquerque in 1884 , it laid out a station and named it Wallace after the former Governor Lew Wallace. The name would be short lived because the post office was named Annville. Nevertheless the station was renamed as Thornton (who had also been a New Mexico Governor), but it did not stick. The station and small settlement around it were named Domingo after the nearby pueblo.
Santo Domingo Trading Post
Head east, out of the Pueblo and visit a classic Route 66 landmark, a Curio & Trading Post.
Indian Service Road 88, Domingo, NM.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
A typical 1920s Indian Trading Post on the original alignment of Route 66.
The historic trading post is 2.7 miles east of the Santo Domingo Pueblo along Indian Service Road 88. Map with directions.
The trading post was opened before Route 66 was created. The Seligmans opened their store in 1922 right in front of the railway station of Domingo of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad (now the modern Rail Runner station is there). The road that passed between the post and the tracks would become Route 66 in 1926. And a growing flow of travellers began stopping at the shop.
The adobe building has two stories and was built in Mission Revival Style. Behind it was an even older warehouse which was built in 1880 and was the first trading post in the area.
It was a typical curio shop selling Native American souvenirs to tourists and gasoline. But it also traded with the local tribal residents at Kewa providing food and goods to them.
When the road was straightened in 1932, traffic dropped and when the "Santa Fe Cut-off" was concluded in 1937 traffic dropped even more; sales to tourists fell. In 1946 it was acquired by Fred Thompson who focused on sales to the locals. After his death in 1995 it closed.
President John F. Kennedy is said to have visited it
A fire almost burned the place in 2001 which destroyed the 1880 warehouse and the sign that boasted that it was "The Most Interesting Spot in the Old West... Where Real Indians Trade".
Starting in 2007 Federal grants have preserved the building and restoration has been done, replacing the damaged timber, windows and glazing.
Rail Runner to Santa Fe and Albuquerque
You can ride the train all the way to Santa Fe or Albuquerque and visit Kewa Pueblo.
Full details on time tables and ticketing at the Official website Rail Runner.
Tours & Itineraries plus outdoor Fun
Nearby Route 66 Towns
We detail all the Day Trips that can be done in the area in our page on Santa Fe attractions, it includes Pueblos to the north, south and west, the outdoor activities, National Monuments, parks and historic sites.
Santo Domingo is 34 mi. south of Santa Fe along I-25 and then right at Exit 259 along NM-22. See the Map with Directions between Santa Fe and Santo Domingo.
The Old alignment of Route 66 near Santo Domingo
Route 66 was originally aligned through Santo Domingo between 1926 and 1932. Then it moved to what is now US 85 and I-25 further east. In 1937, the "Santa Fe Cut-off" shortened the Mother Road by linking Santa Rosa with Albuquerque via Moriarty and bypassing Santa Fe, Las Vegas and Santo Domingo.
Las Vegas to Santa Fe 1926 -1937 Route 66 alignment
See the description of this segment here: Las Vegas to Santa Fe along Route 66.
The original 1926 alignment South of Santa Fe
The road is cut in parts so it no longer exists. We will describe and show a map of each of the segments that can still be driven between Santa Fe and Bernalillo.
1. From the Historic Santa Fe Plaza to Country Road 56C (by airport). Map of this segment.
2. From the Country Road 56C to north of Santa Fe River, at the summit of the "Bajada de Santa Fe". Map of this segment.
Bajada de Santa Fe
The village of La Bajada (visit its church built in 1837) was established between 1695 and 1737 as a rest stop along the "Camino Real" that linked Santa Fe with Mexico City at the base of a 600 foot (183 m) escarpment. It was located on a native road which later would be used as a U.S. territorial wagon road (1860s), and become the NM-1 highway and the National Old Trails highway (1909).
There is a steep zig-zag road that climbs from the lower mesa (La Majada Mesa) to the upper one (La Bajada Mesa), which became part of US 66 and US 85 when they were aligned through here in 1926. There were very steep grades (up to 15 percent) on the climb, with switchbacks and dangerous curves.
3. "Bajada" into the Santa Fe River Canyon: you can hike it. See its Satellite view and Map
4. From the Santa Fe River to NM-16. Map of this Segment.
5. From NM16 south to Domingo. Map of this segment.
6. From Domingo, to modern NM22. Map of this segment.
South of this point the road no longer exists, it cut across through Budaghers and on the south side of I-25 kept on towards Algodones, north of which it is now the roadbed of NM-313, which at one time was the Camino Real and US 66 & 85. Keep south along it until reaching Bernalillo. Map of this segment.
The map's is from the David Rumsey Collection. Metadata: Author and Publisher: Rand McNally and Company, Chicago. Date: 1927. Full Title: Rand McNally junior auto road map Arizona, New Mexico. Copyright by Rand McNally & Co., Chicago, Ill. (1927). List No: 5755.032 Page No: 66-67 Series No: 36.
The 1932 - 1937 alignment bypassing "La Bajada"
In the early 1930s the road between Domingo and Santa Fe was straighened out and the horrible hairpin Bajada into the Santa Fe River Canyon was bypassed. The road followed the current alignment of U.S. 85 (I-25) from Cerrillos Road to Algodones. Santo Domingo was relegated.
Leave the central part of Santa Fe along Alameda St., Sandoval St. and then Cerrillos Rd. Cross US 84, keep SW, the road becomes NM-14. Get on I-25 at Exit 278.
At Exit 259 you can take a side trip to visit Santo Domingo..
The 1926- 1937 alignment south of Bernalillo
Leave I-25 at Exit 248 and take a right and then a left along Camino Real Pan American Central Hwy or NM-313, and follow it south all the way into Albuquerque.
At Sandia Pueblo the highway merges with NM-556 at a roundabout. Head west along NM 556, it becomes 4th St. NW. At Lomas Blvd., 4th St. changes direction so nowadays you must follow 5th until meeting the other alignment of US 66 on Central Ave. See the Map of this segment.
And to the south and west of Albuquerque with the two alignments of Route 66 (1926 and 1937): West and south of Albuquerque.
National and State Parks
Full details on the parks in the area at our Santa Fe page:
The postcard is from the Lake County Discovery Museum, view it online, under Fair Use.
Barry Pritzker, A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. pp. 88
Image Library of Congress, under Fair Use
Kim Suina, Santo Domingo Pueblo
Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.
Robert Julyan. 1996, The Place Names of New Mexico, UNM Press.