I Love New Mexico

About all things New Mexican

Posted by bunnyterry on January - 21 - 2014 | 13 Comments

Not so long ago, I had the interesting experience of posting a profile on Match.com. Before moving to Santa Fe, I used to live in an extremely small town (pop 1100) and the dating prospects were practically nonexistent. So, telling myself that it would probably be fodder for a novel more than anything else, I posted my photos and a profile on Match.com, stating that I was looking for a team roper who could quote Shakespeare while shaving.

I can’t say that I had exceptionally good luck – I had several first dates, none of which really made me want to go back for more, and met a few guys who were always quick to say in written communications that they were looking for smart and funny, when what I suspected they were really looking for was an enhanced Dallas Cowboy cheerleader with a trust fund.   During the entire experience, one of the recurring conversations that I had with nearly all of my pseudo-prospective dates (via e-mail of course) was about where Gallegos NM was located.   That’s because the folks at Match, in their infinite wisdom and cyber-mapping, didn’t show Logan as my home zip code.  They listed me as a resident of Gallegos, New Mexico.

So, I’d get e-mails from guys who couldn’t find it on a map.   Or who found the wrong one.  I guess we have more than one Gallegos in New Mexico – evidently there is one north of Espanola near Ojo Caliente.  And there is mine.  Our’s.  Actually, it belongs to Harding County, the least populated county in New Mexico, with over 2,000 square miles and less than 850 residents.

Red Rock Mesa Above Gallegos

Red Rock Mesa above Gallegos

Gallegos is 30 miles north of Logan on highway 39, and was established in 1840 by Don Jesus Maria Gallegos, who created a ranching empire two miles east of the Ute Creek.   There was a company store on the ranch (still standing), and my friend Eddie Gutierrez still has metal coins he unearthed while working at the ranch – the coins say “Gallegos Ranch” on one side with symbols of sheep or cattle on the reverse. We’re pretty certain the cattle coins had to be worth more at the ranch store than the sheep, but who knows? It was New Mexico before the turn of the 20th century.

The Church of the Immaculate Conception was originally built there in 1876, with a newer red sandstone structure replacing the old church in 1914.   I hear that the original Gallegos family is buried under the floor, and a few of my friends are buried in the churchyard.  It’s a treasure – one of those places Texas tourists pass on the way to the ski slopes, wonder about, and then forget until the next trip.

Church of the Immaculate Conception, Gallegos, NM

But when I tried to describe it to my alleged suitors on Match, all I could say was that it was a gorgeous ranch north of I-40 and east of I-25, a place any sane person would want to be from, a place where ghosts still wander the ranch headquarters (just ask the Obergs, who live there full time now), a place in a beautiful valley surrounded by red rock mesas and cattle ranches.   It may have been one of the reasons I never met the perfect mate on Match – none of them seemed to appreciate how much I could admire a place that was really just a dip in the road to them.

I’m not sure what got me thinking about Gallegos today, other than these pictures I found from a road trip from Logan to Cimarron.  I love that the New Mexico map is dotted with old settlements like this, places that you can’t even Google for much information.   I promise to get out my files of Harding County history soon and give you an update.   You need to know that the ranch is privately owned, and not open for more than an outside view of the church.  You can go to mass there – my niece just attended Mass there on Cristmas Eve, and the priest from Tucumcari shows up for the occasional mass throughout the year.

Until next time, enjoy the photos and know that it’s there.   And that it’s like a lot of the state of New Mexico – rural, a little obscure, riddled with quirky history, and incredibly scenic.

View from Atop Gallegos Mesa

13 Responses so far.

  1. Great pictures! I admire Gallegos, the quirky history, cattle ranches and all. Like the Church photo. Not all that religious, but would go to mass just to be in that church in the country, away from the city.

    On the match.com, that’s a hoot! Funny, but sad. We look, we yearn, we find and are disappointed until….

    When I was out there looking, I said, “If I don’t get turned down three times a day, then I’m not asking enough.” I don’t have the citation for that, but it worked for me. Great post. I hope to have a post or two for you to read soon. Cold here, horses need attention. Thanks, Jack.

  2. Vicky says:

    Good morning Bun – Again loved reading your blog. I’m learning so much about NM. Isn’t that weird. Lived here all my life and at 55 learning more & more from reading your stuff. Thanks and love you!!

  3. hopeseguin says:

    So thankful that I found your New Mexico blog; I plan to visit often.

    Thank you for sharing your love of this country with us . . .

  4. marlene crouch says:

    A friend from New Mexico sent me your comments on New Mexico. I live in Virginia now, but have fond memories about Gallegos, NM. When I was about 12 yrs old my parents would take me to the dances there at the ranch. I loved going and at that time the deBaca’s owned the ranch. At one dance there were a bunch of very heavy women sitting on the bench that had been set up. Well it collapsed and my ankle was under the bench. The deBaca’s hauled me over to the ranch house and put horse linament on my ankle.

    • bunnyterry says:

      Thanks for the comment Marlene – I would love to hear more about your memories of Gallegos and New Mexico. This blog is all about celebrating the magic and unique nature of New Mexico – place and people both. And I’ll be sure to attribute anything you send me directly to you! You can contact me directly at bunnyterry@hotmail.com. Happy Sunday!

      • Elayne Gallegos says:

        Hi There,

        I love your blog! I have recently become interested in finding out about my family tree. My grandfather Eugene Gallegos and my father Bennie Gallegos were both born and raised at the Gallegos Ranch. I have many happy memories about spending summers out there. I also remember the great dances that they would have at the ranch. I would like any information that would help me find out about my ancestors. You can email me at mediterraniasales@gmail.com
        Thanks so much.

        Elayne Gallegos

  5. I sent this to my son in L.A.He has lived out there for years but was born in Tucumcari but he still calls NM home, He likes to read about the history and people of NM. Thank you.

  6. Claire says:

    Having not lived in NM since 1982, one of the hardest things about losing my dad in 2005 was that I was afraid I would “forget” how to be a New Mexican. That is why i need to be re-charged by things like this.

  7. kathy baca says:

    my great grandmother is sara gallegos debaca i spent alot of time at the ranch when i was a child i was baptised at church it was a happy place my family is buirried in and out of the church

    • admin says:

      Would love to hear more about your time at the ranch and your family Kathy. I think the Gallegos Ranch is a treasure. . .

  8. Michael D. Gallegos says:

    I spent many summers growing up and working (sort of) at Gallegos Ranch with my Grandparents Frank and Pauline (CdeBaca). My older brother and I had great fun and the time we spent there is a big part of the fabric of my life. My brother just passed away and I told several stories of growing up there at his “celebration of life”. We went to school for a brief time where my grandmother taught school in Roy until we moved to Santa Fe. It was a wonderful and magical place with many uncles and aunts and lots of cousins and all the neighbor children. I have never been back since my grandmother died in 1973 but I think of the place often and have a picture of the church on my desk. I have been planning a trip soon and would like to see my brother’s ashes buried there next to our grandparents. I enjoy your blog greatly and it has motivated me to re-connect with my roots.
    BTW, I tear my tortilla into small pieces to eat my green chile stew.
    Cheers,
    Michael

    • admin says:

      Michael! How nice to read your comments. I’d love to see photos when you go to Gallegos. And I’d love to hear stories about your summers. Would you like to write a guest blog? Are there photos? And are you in Santa Fe now? Feel free to e-mail me at ilovenewmexico1@gmail.com

      Bunny

    • Elayne Gallegos says:

      Hi Michael,

      My name is Elayne Gallegos. I also used to spend the summers at the Gallegos ranch with Frank and Pauline. I loved them very much. I have such fond memories of that time. It was a wonderful and very magical place. Yes…many uncles, aunts and cousins. Reading this blog and hearing all the comments about the ranch has also motivated me to visit the ranch and re-connect with my roots as well. My husband and I are planning a trip very soon. I am excited to show him the beautiful, magical Gallegos Ranch.

      Best regards,

      Elayne


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