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Montoya, a tiny Route 66 "Ghost Town"

On Historic Route 66 New Mexico

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Montoya, is a small rural community on the original alignment of Route 66 in New Mexico.

It is almost a ghost town and is best known because it is the site where a historic building is located; the Richardson Store, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now abandoned and falling apart.

Another local attraction is the Tucumcari to Montoya Route 66 segment itself, also listed as a Historic Place.

Don't miss the local cemetery from 1910 and the St. Joan of Arc church.

Drive historic Route 66 through Montoya NM

Route 66, the "Old" The Santa Fe Loop
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Tucumcari ¦ San Jon ¦ Glenrio (Texas)

Route 66 in Montoya New Mexico

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About Montoya, New Mexico

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 4,321 ft (1,317 m). Population: n⁄a (2010).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6).

Montoya is a very small village, an unincorporated community, that is located in Quay County New Mexico.

This part of New Mexico has been inhabited for the last 11,000 years; and stone tools discovered at Clovis NM are among the oldest in North America.

What is now Montoya was explored by the Spanish, as "Nueva México" was part of their American colonies. The local natives were the Querecho Apaches.

Looking east along US 66 in Montoya NM

Trees and the roadway of Route 66
Route 66, the historic alignment, in Montoya, NM Credits

In 1824, a former Spanish soldier and merchant who traded with the local natives, named Montoya, received a land grant here from Governor Bartolomé Baca.

After the Mexican - American War (1846 - 48), the territory became part of the U.S.; at that time the native Kiowa, Kiowa Apache and Comanche controlled the region and repelled any settlement attempts until subdued by the U.S. Army during the mid-1870s.

Soon cattle ranches were established in the arid region, and the CRI&G Railroad (Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railroad) laid its tracks into the area.

A vintage postcard of Montoya NM from 1910

Montoya main street in a black and white 1910 vintage postcard
Vintage postcard ca. 1910 of Montoya, NM

The railway selected a spot located roughly halfway between Tucumcari and Santa Rosa as a station for a crew of workers, and that is how the future town of Montoya was born. It is nestled between Pajarito Creek and Arroyo Las Palomas Creek, a good source of water.

The name Montoya

The surname Montoya comes from Spain, and was originally a Basque family name. Interestingly it was adopted by the Spanish Jews (Sepharadic) who were forced to convert to Catholicism by the Spanish Inquisition. The Sepharadic jews of Ávala adopted the name because it sombined the words "Monte" (mountain) and "Yah" (the name of God, Jehova): "Mount of Jehova".

Many then fled to the New World in the 1500's escaping persecution by the Inquisition and assimilated or hid among the Spaniards in Mexico and New Mexico.

Its first post office was named Rountree (1901) after its first postmaster Henry K. Rountree, but soon after became Montoya (1902). Perhaps the Railroad (which arrived in 1902) suggested the name change.

As the initial settlement grew, it attracted G.W. Richardson, from Missouri, who opened his now historic store in 1908.

The increased use of cars created the need for better roads and New Mexico began working on the road between Tucumcari and Santa Rosa in 1918. The highway workers were stationed at Montoya. In 1926 the US Highway system was created and Route 66 was aligned through Montoya along the previous state highway. A growing number of tourists began stopping at Montoya for gasoline and food.

The arid conditions in the 1920s and the Great Depression in the 1930s hurt ranchers in the area. After World War II business prospered due to the large volume of traffic along Route 66. However the building of Interstate 40, which began in 1956 led to the demise of the small town as cars sped past the interchange that led to it. advertisement

Today Montoya has a few scattered homes, the remains of Richardson Store and some ruined buildings. I-40 loops past the south side of village.

Getting to Montoya

Heading west from Montoya down Route 66 are two small villages: Newkirk (11 mi.) and Cuervo (20 mi.), then comes Santa Rosa (38 mi.) Further west lie Albuquerque (155 mi.) and Gallup (293 mi.) To the northwest is Santa Fe (105 mi.)

To the east lies Tucumcari (22 miles), San Jon (46 mi.), and on the New Mexico - Texas state line is Glenrio (64 mi.), and further east is Amarillo (137 mi.)

Hotels near Montoya

Montoya does not have any accommodation but there are several hotels in other towns that are close to it: Santa Rosa and Tucumcari with plenty of lodging.

>> Book your Hotels close to town, in
or Santa Rosa

More Hotels close to Montoya along Route 66

Heading West...

Heading East....

The Santa Fe Route 66 segment

Book a room nearby, in Tucumcari:

>> There are RV campgrounds close to Montoya.

Weather in Montoya

Weather widget for the town nearest Montoya

Latest Santa Rosa, NM, weather
Route 66 in Montoya, New Mexico; location map

Location of Montoya on Route 66

This region is semiarid and the yearly rainfall is around 16 inches (406 mm). Summers are hot but with lower temperature during the night due to the altitude, and winters are cool.

There are about 40 days with precipitation yearly mostly during the summer with intense downpours. From May to August 9.4 inches of rain fall (239 mm).

Snowfall is quite light and averages 8.2 inches of snow (21 cm). It can happen at any time between September and May

There are around 266 sunny days every year.

Average high temperature in summer (July) is 93°F (34°C). In winter (Jan) the high is 53°F (12°C). The average summer low is 64°F (18°C) and the winter low is 23°F (-5°C).

Tornado risk

Montoya is located in an area with a very low tornado risk: it only has three (3) Tornado watches per year.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.

Map of Route 66 in Montoya

See this Map of Route 66 through Montoya.

Visit our Route 66 Map of New Mexico, with the all the alignments of US 66 and all the towns along it in the state of New Mexico.

Route 66 Map Tucumcari to Santa Rosa in 1956

1956 Road Map of Tucumcari - Santa Rosa, New Mexico
Route 66 map (1956) Tucumcari to Santa Rosa.

Tucumcari to Montoya Historic Route 66

Route 66, Montoya, NM.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

This segment of Rout 66 is a historic landmark listed in the National Register of Historic Places and runs from Tucumcari all the way to Cuervo and onwards to Santa Rosa.

We have a webpage that describes this historic alignment with maps and many details; vist our Tucumcari to Santa Rosa Historic Route 66 webpage for more information.

Montoya: its Attractions

Landmarks, Route 66 sights

Almost a Ghost Town

In this "ghost town" there are a few scattered houses and the remains of some buildings (a gas station among them), and the Richardson Store, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, an old church and cemetery.

We will begin our tour on the western side of Montoya, where Exit 311 meets Route 66. Turn right, head east, and drive 250 yards to the site of Richardson Store.

Richardson Store

Route 66, Montoya, NM.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1908 G. W. Richardson moved to New Mexico from Missouri, where he was a storekeeper to set up a store in Montoya. He initially supplied the local ranchers and the railroad workers.

Later, when New Mexico began improving the highway through Montoya (1918) he also provided goods to the road workers. Route 66, which was created in 1926 increased the flow of customers.

The Store was originally built in wood, but Richardson upgraded it to a stone structure, using red sandstone to rebuild it. The shaded setting of the store enticed travellers who stopped by to cool off and replenish their stock of groceries. The store had gas pumps under the now collapsed wooden portico that shaded the filling bay.

Sinclair and Texaco gas station signs from the 1950s, round shaped

Round-shaped 1950s gas signs

The store sold saddle blankets, feed buckets and other articles to the local ranchers. It also housed the local post office.

Nowadays it is closed and the portico has collapsed. The building has been fenced-off awaiting repair.

The image below shows the store in 2008, it has since fallen in further disrepair. The red arrow shows the gas station sign of the old store, a round sign that may have been either a Sinclair or a Texaco one. Both had the same type of supporting ring and signpost.

old Richardson Store, dirt street, old gas station sign and a trees
Historic Richardson Store in Montoya (2008). Click on image for Street View.

Nowadays it is closed and the portico has collapsed. The building has been fenced-off awaiting repair.

Richardson Store in ruins nowadays
Current appearance of Richardson Store, Montoya; Ammodramus

Saint Joan of Arc Church

See Location Map. Drive 200 yards east of Richardson's Store and turn right, towards the Freeway. The church is just 200 yards from Route 66.

The inscription upon the door reads "St. Joan of Arc Church In Memory of Cirilio Martinez". It is a single room building, painted white, with a gable roof, the cusp of which has a cross above the entrance.

Inside it you can see a few pews and an austere altar and images of saints. The dorway has a gabled canopy and is flanked by walls with wood lattice. The bell is mounted on a steel structure not taller than the main building, It is enclosed by a chain link fence and facing the building is a wood cross decorated with green diamond-shaped ornaments.

In case you are wondering, there is a grave in the Cemetery at Montoya belonging to Mr. Cirilio Martinez (b. 1906 - d. 1976).

church, cross and external bell
Saint Joan of Arc Church in Montoya, NM.

It is well kept, and old: the book, "Directory of Churches and Religious Organizations in New Mexico" published in 1940 by the Historical Records Survey of New Mexico, lists it under the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, under Tucumcari Parish ad the St. Joan of Arc Mission, Montoya, headed by Rev. Albert Hammond from Tucumcari. Tucumcari's (Saint Anne church's Instagram lists the chapel in Montoya as part of the parish.

Drive east 200 yards, and to your right is a ruined building, that was a store:

ruins of a building words cold beer written on it
Ruins of a store in Montoya, NM.
Sign of Montoya Cemetery

Montoya Cemetery sign. Credits

Montoya Cemetery

0.4 miles east, at the tip of the village is the cemetery, established in 1910. No trees, only the shrubs and the mesas as a backdrop. And the traffic along I-40.

This is a view of the cemetery from the freeway.

This ends your "city tour" in Montoya.

Route 66 segments near Montoya

These are the sections of Route 66 in Montoya. We describe each of them in a dedicated webpage with maps, itineraries and attractions along the way.

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Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat
Robert Julyan. 1996, The Place Names of New Mexico. UNM Press
Richardson Store Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, National Park Service
Sephardic and Crypto-Jews of New Mexico
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.

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