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Wingate

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A real Old West Fort

Wingate is 3 miles north of the Historic Old West Fort Wingate, it is on a Historic segment of Route 66 and allows you to visit two ghost towns: Coolidge and Perea as well as the Kit Carson Cave.

Wingate NM

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About Wingate, New Mexico

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 6,750 ft (2.057 m). Population: n⁄a (2010).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6).

Wingate was a station on the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, on Route 66 located 3 miles north of Fort Wingatge, by Exit 33 of Interstate 40. It is located in McKinley County, New Mexico on Route 66. See a Map of Wingate.

Looking North from Route 66 at Wingate, New Mexico

Looking north at Wingate from Route 66 in  NM
A view north, with the old station and the cliffs at, Wingate
Google
Click on image for Interactive Google Street View

The area around Wingate has been inhabited for about 11,000 years; in more recent times, the Native Americans known as Diné or Najajo, have lived in the sandstone mountains to the north and south of Wingate.

The Spanish Conquistadors were the first Europeans to reach this region in 1540 when Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and his defeated the natives and occupied Zuñi Pueblo. They later moved east reaching the Great Plains.

Almost sixty years later, the Spaniards returned and settled "Nueva Méjico" but they did not settle the area where Wingate is now located. The Navajo people resisted their advances and attacked their settlements at Zuni, Laguna and Acoma pueblos.

This bellicose situation did not change during the Colonial period (until 1821) and later, when the territory became a part of an independent Mexico. Only after the Mexican - American War (1846 - 48) did the American Army take action to subdue the Navajo.

The army established Old Fort Wingate near Grants in 1862 and later moved it to its present location in 1864 after the Navajo Reservation was created.

The original Navajo name of the site was "Shash Bitó" (Bear Spring), and it was located on the old wagon road linking Albuquerque, the Laguna Missions and the land of the Navajo, with Fort Defiance on the Arizona - New Mexico border.

In 1881, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (later acquired by the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railway) advanced with its tracks across "Campbell Pass" and the Continental Divide, and built the station named Wingate as a supply point for the Fort.

In 1914 New Mexico State Highway #6 was built following the railroad and was as part of the National Old Trails Highway system. In 1926 Route 66 was aligned along the state highway and can still be driven, as the North Frontage Road of Interstate 40 which reaplaced it in the 1960s

Where to Stay

There is lodging close to Wingate along Route 66:

>> Book your Hotels in neighboring Gallup.

Lodging Near Wingate along Route 66

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The Santa Fe Route 66 segment
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>> There are RV campgrounds close by, at Gallup

Weather in Wingate

Located in the high western part of New Mexico, the climate in Wingate is semi-arid climate with hot summers and cold winters. The altitude and dry air make summer nights cool and winter nights very cold.

The average summer high temperature is 89°F (32°C) and the low is a cool 51°F (11°C). During winter the average high is 45°F (7°C) and the average low is a chilly 11°F (-12°C).

The annual rainfall is scarce: 11.5 in (292 mm), most falls between July and Nov. (6.81 in, 173 mm). There are 72 days per year with precipitation.

Snow is frequent and heavy in winter with 30.4 inches (77.2 cm) yearly, which falls at any time between Oct. and May, but mostly between Nov and March.

Tornado risk

There is no tornado risk in Wingate: McKinley County has no Tornado watches. Route 66 west of this point, and all the way to California has no tornado events at all.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
 

Route 66 and Wingate, NM
Location of Wingate, Route 66

Getting to Wingate

Twelve miles to the west is the city of Gallup and further west is the Arizona state line (36 miles). To the east is the "Continental Divide" Continental Divide followed by Grants (51 mi.) and the large City of Albuquerque is 129 miles.

To the north of Albuquerque along the old Santa Fe loop of Route 66 is New Mexico state capital city ofSanta Fe (187 mi.).

Map of Wingate and Route66

in New Mexico.

Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment; Red line: I-40 & I-25 where they overlap the old alignment.

Green line: The 1926 alignment between Prewitt and Thoreau. It cannot be driven except for a small section on Indian Service Route 7018, Read about the 1926 alignment in Thoreau.

See Route 66's alignment in Texas

  Click to See the "Santa Fe" alignment of Route 66

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Google Maps. Terms. Icons.

The Route 66, an itinerary through Wingate

Route 66 logo

Route 66 across New Mexico

Click to read about the Full description of Route 66 across New Mexico.

Below is more information on Route 66's 1926 alignment by Wingate.

The Santa Fe Loop (1926 - 1937)

Visit our Santa Fe Loop page for full details on the "old" 1926 to 1937 alignment of Route 66 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque via Dilia, Romeroville, Pecos, Glorieta, Santa Fe and Bernalillo. This was the original U.S. 66.

Wingate, New Mexico: Attractions & Sights

Things to Do and See

Old Far West Fort

The town, 3 miles south of Route 66 is best known for being an Old West Fort. Kit Carson's cave is to the north.

Visit the Fort: Fort Wingate

Visit the Old Fort: From Route 66 which is the north frontage road of I-40, cross to the south and head along NM-400, for 3 miles until reaching "Fort Wingate" (see Map showing road).

Entrance gate to Fort Wingate near Route 66, Wingate New Mexico

Fort Wingate entrance gate, near Route 66, Wingate Route 66, New Mexico
Gateway Fort Wingate
John Stanton

Navajo Reservation

The Reservation spans over 9 million acres and lies 20 miles north of Wingate. Larger than Massachusetts and New Jersey together.

The Navajo are actually the Diné people, which in their language means jut that: "The People". The Spaniards called them "Apaches de Navajo", after an old Tigua pueblo, Navahu.

Fort Wingate

NM 400, Fort Wingate, NM.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

The Fort Wingate Historic District is an original Old West fort used in the wars against the Navajo people.

Fort Fauntleroy was established at Bear Springs in 1860 as a key to a campaign designed to subdue the Navajo people. But the Civil War broke out and the campaign was aborted, and the troops relocated in the east to fight in the war. The Fort was abandoned around 1865.

A fort was established near Grants, when the Navajo continued their raids, and was named Fort Wingate (now "Old Fort Wingate"). From this fort the commander, General James Carleton, fought against and defeated the Navajos. He relocated them in the Bosque Redondo Reservation forcing them to walk 400 miles in a terrible trek known to this day as "The Long Walk". The appalling conditions of the reservation which lacked water led to malnutrition, disease and death. The US government signed a new treaty with the Navajo in 1868 allowing them to return to their homes and established a reservation encompassing their original homeland.

To enforce the treaty (previous ones had been broken by the Indians), a fort was needed, so the new commander, Gen. Getty moved the First Fort Wingate to the site where Ft. Fauntleroy had once stood.

Since no further wars took place, the fort led a life of military routine, surveying, escorting scientific expeditions and serving as their base.

In 1870, President Ulysses S. Grant created a 100-square mile military reservation around the Fort, which was expanded in 1881 by adding 30 sq.mi. to the south of it.

The fort buildings were of adobe and timber from the neighboring Zuni Mountains. This contributed to a fire which burned the fort in 1896.

It was deactivated in 1911, reopened briefly in 1914-15 to house 4,000 Mexican troops and their families who fled Pancho Villa's Uprising and had requested asylum. After 1918 it was used to store ammunition that was returned from the war theater in Europe (World War I), becoming the largest ammo storage depot in the world.

In 1925 the compound and buildings were transferred to the Bureau of Indian Affairs so that it could be used as a boarding school for the Zuni and Navajo children. The old parade ground was converted into a baseball field.

Also in 1925 the part of the military reserve north of the railroad was put in trust for the Navajo Tribe and the southern 30 square miles allocated to the Manzano (now Cibola) National Forest. . The remaining area continued as munitions storage until 1992 thereafter being transferred to federal trust for the Navajo and Zuni nations.

The oldest remaining building constructed for army use was built in 1906 (the 1800s buildings all burned down in 1896) for a post exchange and recreation hall. It has now been converted into a boys dormitory called "The Hogan." A short distance to the northwest of the fort is a modern school built in 1965.

Trivia

Douglas MacArthur (1880 - 1964). He played an important role during World War II in the Pacific Ocean. He was a five-star general and had been Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s.

As a child, he lived at Fort Wingate while his father Maj. Arthur MacArthur commanded the 13th Infantry in the early 1880s.

World War II and Route 66. Located on Route 66 and its munitions storage facilities were used during WW II. Furthermore, its facilities housed the Navajo code talkers while they trained.

Code talkers used a code based on the Navajo language, known only to native born Americans during the war, it was unbreakable.

Tours & Itineraries near Wingate

There are several tours that you can do near Wingate, along Route 66.

Nearby Route 66 Towns

You can head towards the west and visit Gallup (12 mi.) or east and visit Grants (51 mi.)

Along Route 66 near Fort Wingate

In his "A Guide Book to Highway 66", Jack DeVere Rittenhouse gives us an idea of what Route 66 was like back in 1946. After Perea, he laconically mentions the fort with a brief one liner "136 mi. The entreance to Fort Wingate". One mile to the west Rittenhouse describes a now disappeared historical marker, the " Kit Carson Caves".

Three miles west was the Kirk Brothers Trading Post which had a "store, cabins no gas". Then, one mile west was the entrance to "Rehoboth Mission off US66", followed by Gallup.

The scenery; Red Sandstone cliffs

Navajo Church

This natural feature is on the north side of the road, and is a sharp rocky pinnacle of white sandstone around 200 ft. high (61 m) mounted on top of red sandstone. It is a sacred spot for the Navajo people.

Pyramid Rock

Just west of the "church" is another sandstone hill shaped like a cone, the Pyramid Rock.

The area west of Wingate towards Rehoboth is a red shale valley. Here the highway runs much closer to the high red cliffs than it does further east. There are good views of the red and white sandstone, eroded by wind and water.

These rocks are known as the "Entrada Sandstone", a formation belonging to the San Rafael Group that is found across western USA, in Wyoming, Colorado, NW New Mexico, NE Arizona and SE Utah.

It was deposited during the Jurassic period between 180 and 140 million years ago in different kinds of environments such as beaches, dunes and tidal mudflats, beaches and sand dunes of a shallow sea, the Sundance Sea that covered western USA and Canada.

Kit Carson Cave

7.5 miles drive from Wingate along Old Route 66 and then north along Highway 566.

This place was mentioned as a classic sight to be visited in the 1940s and 50s, but now its popularity has declined together with that of its namesake, Kit Carson.

See the Map with directions from Wingate to Kit Carson Cave.

A now gone marker: Kit Carson Cave near Fort Wingate on Route 66, New Mexico

Postcard showing the now gone Kit Carson Cave historic marker on Route 66, Wingate Route 66, New Mexico
Kit Carson Cave marker, now gone on a 1950s postcard
Credits
Controversial Kit Carson
Christopher Houston Kit Carson (1809 - 1868)

Christopher "Kit" Carson. Public Domain

Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson (1809 - 1868)

Kit Carson was a trapper and scout. He fought in the American Civil War. He acted in New Mexico under General James Carleton, and at times did not obey his orders (such as "kill al the Indian men"), but even though he tried to resign his commission, he conducted an attrition war against the Navajo that forced them, starving, to surrender.

He did not oversee the deadly "Long Walk" that took them to their new reservation at Bosque Redondo. He retired to Taos where he was regarded as a hero, having defeated the ruthless Navajo. The terrible methods were those enforced by Gen. Carleton, Carson merely was a man of his time, and carried out his orders.

Revisionist history now paints him as a bloody racist (even though his first and seond wives were Native Americans). The Navajo people, obviously distrusted him, and modern Diné are entitled to consider him as they wish to, and that is why, in 2014 they renamed the Kit Carson Park in Taos NM as Red Willow Park, after the Tiwa name for Taos.

It is likely that the Historic Marker by Route 66 was removed during road building, but for some reason was not replaced.

The drive towards the Cave will let you see both Navajo Church and Pyramid Rock, to the west. The countryside is also great, enjoy the red sandstone.

East along Route 66

Drive along the Mother Road, eastwards, towards Continental Divide and visit Perea and Coolidge on the way.

Perea

1.8 miles east of Wingate (see Map).

Francisco Perea

Francisco Perea, Credits

After Continental divide, the railroad split into two lines, one to the north, passing through North Guam and Ciniza, another to the south, passing through South Guam. They both met at Perea located on the eastern tip of Fort Wingate Military Reservation, 4.2 mi. east of Wingate station and 5.7 mi. west of Coolidge - Guam.

The 1927 Rand McNally road map of New Mexico shows the brand new Route 66 and it also includes the town "Perea" (but not Coolidge) as the only town between Thoreau and Wingate.

The name: Perea

Francisco Perea (1830 - 1913), was a congressman between 1863 and 1865. He belonged to a prominent family, and his grandfather had been governor of New Mexico during the period it had belonged to Mexico. He was a supporter of the Union and fought in Apache Canyon battle in NM. He was a congressman and later a member of the NM Territorial council. He was a successful businessman.

Jack DeVere Rittenhouse in his 1946 "A Guide Book to Highway 66" does not mention Guam or Coolidge, they must have been defunct by then but he did mention Perea.

A later 1950s map of Route 66 does not mention Perea, only Coolidge, but located to the north, along the old highway's alignment.

Perea Trading Post

It was mentioned by Rittenhouse as being located 3 miles east of Ft. Wingate. It was set on the south side of the original Route 66 and operated between 1930 and 1956.

Its remains can still be seen, just to the west of the junction of NM27 with US 66 at Perea: There are two rectangular concrete foundations with some crumbled slabs of the former stucco walls. See Map with the location of the ruins.

Coolidge

11 miles east of Wingate (See Map Wingate to Coolidge).

The place was known as Bacon's Ranch, and was located on a pre-railroad military wagon road. It was a mail stage stop between Santa Fe and Prescott.

The Atlantic and Pacific Railroad laid the tracks through this area in 1880 and chose a spot known as Bacon Springs for their "First Division". At that time there was a small village named Cranes (after William "Uncle Billy" Cranes). "Uncle Billy" had based his business there, supplying beef and hay to the Army base at neighboring Fort Wingate. The railway built a stop there which was briefly named Cranes Station (the post office opened as Cranes in 1881 but closed in 1888).

In 1882 it was renamed Coolidge after Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, the president of the railroad. The town boasted a tailor shp, fourteen saloons, rooming house and two general stores. But in 1890 the railway moved its divison hedquarters to Gallup, at that time a fire razed the town and what was left began to shrink and waste away.

Why Guam?

Guam is the largest of the Mariana Islands in the western Pacific Ocean, in Micronesia. It was captured by U.S. naval forces during the Spanish - American War in 1898 without any bloodshed.

It is now an unincorporated territory of the United States in the western Pacific Ocean and their residents are U.S. citizens.

The exotic island became a household name at that time, during the war, and was adopted by a trading post established in Coolidge the following year.

Guam

The railroad changed its name to Dewey in 1898. The Guam Lumber and Trading Co. set up a post there in 1899. The railway renamed the station in 1896 to Guam. (There were actually two Guam's one was North Guam, the other South Guam).

The current village of Coolidge is located 3 miles south of the original railway station, it was established in 1926, on the alignment of Route 66, with a trading post and gas station.

The Name: Coolidge

The new settlement was also named Coolidge (1926) but this time it was named after Dane Coolidge (1873 - 1940) a local who ran an Indian trading post.

The old post is long gone, and Coolidge is a ghost town.

The Navajo name for this place was "Chísii Nééz", which means "Tall Chiricahua" (the Chiricahua were Native Americans that lived in the SW of the USA and were quite similar to the Apache).

There were two trading posts operating in Coolidge, the Guam Lumber and Trading Company (1899-1919) located just north of the southern line, it was also a post office. Later, once Route 66 was created, the Casa del Navajo (1926-1955), it was located one mile to the northwest of Coolidge on the original Route 66 alignment of the 1920s and 30s. However it was bypassed by the later course of US 66 (2 miles to the south), built in 1937. A post office operated here from 1926 to 1931. The building burned in 1955.

The Old alignment of Route 66 near Wingate

route 66 shield New Mexico

Route 66 Near Wingate

From Thoreau to Continental Divide (1926 - 1937)

The road crossed the town of Thoreau along 1st Street and then 1st Ave for 1.2 miles as shown in the Map of Route 66 through Thoreau (1926-37).

The original alignent beyond there is now gone and ran just north of ther railway tracks. There is however one other place where it can be driven: west from NM-27 for 1.5 miles till it veers off towards the north. (This map shows this segment).

After 1937, the current road from Thoreu westwards

Route 66 is now NM-122 and runs next to I-40 as its frontage Road from Thoreau all the way to the Continental Divide.In 1956, I-40 replaced Route 66. At Continental Divide the old road ends in a Dead End just west of Exit 43. So you will have to get on I-40 at that point and head west towards Gallup. See a Map of this segment (Thoreau to Continental Divide).

At Exit 36 leave I-40 and return to the North Frontage Rd. here is another original and Historic segment of Route 66:

Historic Route 66 from Iyanbito to Rehobeth

Old Route 66Rehoboth, NM.

National Historic Landmark

The road was built as part of the National Old Trails Highway which became New Mexico state highway 6 in 1914. In 1926 it was incorporated into the alignment of U.S. Highway 66.

It runs along the valley of the Rio Puerco of the West, which receives the inflow of the water heading towards the Pacific Ocean from the Continental Divide.

The red colored sandstone on the north side of the highway are quite a sight, with Pyramid and the Navajo Church among them.

It was improved during the Great Depression and saw a large flow of migrants heading west towards California during the Dust Bowl period. It was paved by 1937 and after 1956, was replaced by Interstate 40.

Now it is the frontage road of I-40, on the north side of the Interstate at Exit 36 (Iyanbito) passing through Perea and Wingate, all the way to Rehobeth, just before the junction of I-40 and Route 66 at Gallup.

See The map from Exit 36 to Gallup (Historic Segment).

> > See the previous segment Grants to Thoreau

> > See the next segment Gallup to Arizona State Line.

National and State Parks

There are some parks realtively close to Wingate. We have described them in our Grants to Gallup tour and in the Ventana Rock Arch tour, which visit the El Malpais National Conservation Area, the El Malpais National Monument and El Morro National Monument.

Not to far east, is the Bluewater Lake State Park with an RV campground.

Sources

Sherry Robinson, Jul 16, 2014 Kit Carson Park in Taos will have a new name

Postcard, Mirro-Krome Card by H.S. Crocker Co., Inc. San Francisco California, used under fair usage.

Sherry Robinson, 1994. Malpais, Mt. Taylor, and the Zuni Mountains: A Hiking Guide and History. UNM Press

Fort Wingate Historic District, National Park Service.

Image by John Stanton, under its CC-BY-SA-3.0 License.

Harold L. James, The History of Fort Wingate.

Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, 1946. A Guide Book to Highway 66.

Guidebook of the Western United States: Part C - The Santa Fe Route, With a Side Trip to Grand Canyon of the Colorado, bulletin 613. Nelson Horatio Darton.

Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.

Robert Julyan. 1996, The Place Names of New Mexico, UNM Press.

Image by Vítězslav Válka adapted under its CC BY-SA 3.0 CZ License

Map Icons by Nicolas Mollet under its CC BY SA 3.0 License