The name Tucumcari is derived from the Comanche word, "tukanukaru," meaning "to lie in wait for something to approach." By the mid-19th century, the flat-topped peak served as a lookout for Comanche raiders preying on cowboys driving cattle along the Chisolm and Comanchero Trails. Then there was the Gross Kelly Company of Las Vegas, offering general merchandise, and M. The birth of Route 66 in 1926 brought new travelers to Tucumcari by the carload.The town of Tucumcari itself got its start in 1901 as a tent city known first as "Ragtown" and later as "Six Shooter Siding" along the Chicago, Rock Island and Union Pacific Railroad. Blankenship's livery barn, a hotel, and of course the Monarch Saloon. Wagon yards, livery stables, and blacksmith shops were soon replaced with gas stations, motor courts, gift shops and cafes.Agriculture was always the Rock's lifeblood and the two carried a symbiotic relationship.This was never made clearer than during the 1970's when states like Iowa offered assistance to rebuild crumbling branch lines for continued rail service.It carried problems tracing back to its earliest years and served cities its competitors already reached. Cash sang and struggled after the company's greatest leader, John D. In 1964, a merger was agreed upon with Union Pacific to assure the Rock's survival.Alas, there was much opposition to this union and as the Interstate Commerce Commission dragged its feet the railroad physically collapsed.
Tucumcari Mountain provided an excellent vantage for hunting buffalo and antelope. Other businesses were the Pioneer Bakery, Arcade Restaurant, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel with rooms for a day, the Owl Saloon, Weldon and Young Real Estate and Investments, Jackson and Foxworth Lumber Company, and the Exchange Bank. Max Goldenberg's home was the first permanent home built in Tucumcari, and contained the post office.
completed more than a year ahead of the schedule when rail service opened to Rock Island on February 22, 1854.
It proved an immediate success and promoters felt so good about their prospects expansion was underway before the C&RI's completion.
A few different versions sprang up in the succeeding years, the most famous of which was recorded by icon Johnny Cash in 1970.
Unfortunately, for all the Rock's fame it was not quite as glamorous in reality.