Posted by: bunnyterry | January 3, 2010

Gallegos in Harding County

 Not so long ago, before I found my true love at the Annex Bar and Grill (I owe them a blog post – best shredded beef burrito smothered in green chile and queso in eastern New Mexico) in Logan, I had the interesting experience of posting a profile on Match.com. As you’ve surely gathered, I live in an extremely small town (pop 1100) and the dating prospects are 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 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 happen to 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 that that it was a gorgeous ranch north of here, 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 that Dave took on our last trip to the mountains.  I love that the New Mexico map is dotted with old settlements like this, places that you can’t even really 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

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Responses

  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. 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. 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. 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.

    • 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!

  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. 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. Looking at the gallegos ranch brings back many memories and stories told to me
    by my dad, Adolph Louis. he talked about his father Anacleto James. they visited the ranch in a buckboard coming from Las Vegas where my father was born, next to a brick factory and attended school there. this must have been about 1914 when
    they stopped at the Ranch.
    my father was 12 then. he also said my great grandfather Eugene B. went off to Santa Fe when he was elected one of the State Rep. of the 1ST. New Mexico
    State Senate. He was also a Deputy Sheriff,Sheep Inspector. His father’s name was
    Don Jesus Maria Gallegos Y Sanchez , his Wife was Dona Maria Antoniia Doretea Cabeza de Vaca; his Parents, Pablo Antonio Gallegos & Maria De Los Ascencion Padilla y Sanchez; his parents, Jose Miguel Antonio GaeGallego & Maria Ignacia Leonarda Cabeza de Vaca; his parents, Barnabe Gaegallego & Josefa Cabeza de Vaca(from Castile Spain about 1753) ; his parents, Roque Gaegallego from Galcia Spain & Juanita Sanchez, Castile Spain about 1723 ?
    Have a Happy Easter

  8. Hi,

    Thanks for creating this blog, I really do like the pictures that you posted. I am a direct descendant of Jesus Maria Gallegos. There are some inacurracies in the above history of the Gallegos family and ranch, but please e-mail me if you are interested in that part.

    I am interested in trying to obtain a coin from the ranch. I read in your post that an Eddie Gutierrez had found some, would you see if he would contact me. My e-mail address is maldonadocb@gmail.com.

    Again, thank you for creating this blog,
    Charlie

  9. I have been there myself it is truely an amazeing place the history there is overwelming the Obergs got a nice ranch .My great grandfather work as a hired hand there.

  10. Wow !! Great I found this blog, My Grandmother was Benita Gallegos, she was Eugenio B. and Gertrude Gallegos youngest Daughter. Now I must visit this ranch, Great pictures


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