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  • Ashley Wagner

Tucumcari, NM

The first time I visited Tucumcari was during the first year of Rockabilly on the Route. I have always been into Americana and vintage things, so I naturally fell in love. I couldn't get enough of the old neon motels lining Route 66, imagining what Tucumcari must have been like before I-40 (tragically) rerouted travelers. This is another New Mexico town that had its hey day in the past, but you wouldn't know it by the people. I have been to Tucumcari many times now, and I am always greeted with warm, friendly faces. The entire town is a photographer's dream, and there is much too much to post here. One notable thing is that the town is COVERED in murals! One of the more notorious ones is for an eyeglass business ( I believe) that incorporates the faces of actual residents. The origin of the town name is debatable, but what I heard from a local and what’s quoted in the Chamber of Commerce is—“The two finest warriors of an Apache tribe that made their home at the mountain met in combat to determine who would succeed their dying Chief Wautonomah. The survivor would also win the hand of the chief's daughter, Kari. Tocom, the brave loved by Kari, was slain by Tonopah in the battle. Overcome with grief and rage, Kari seized her knife, killed Tonopah and took her own life. Heartbroken at this tragic turn of events, the old chief stabbed himself, crying out as he died, "Tocom-Kari, Tocom-Kari." This story is what became known as "The Legend of Tucumcari."