"Tucumcari~Route 66" Top 5 Page for this destination Tucumcari by Yaqui

Tucumcari Travel Guide: 22 reviews and 45 photos

"Place of the buffalo hunt"~Jemez

According to Herman Moncus, a local historian, another possible meaning for the word comes from the Jemez Indians who lived in the Rio Grande Valley, but hunted in Eastern New Mexico before 1800. Moncus believes that Tucumcari can be translated from the Jemez language to "place of the buffalo hunt." Moncus' research determined that the Jemez Indians probably learned the name from other tribes and he believed that it could be a name surviving from the pre-Indian or paloe-Indian periods.

Robert Julyan, The Place Names of New Mexico, Revised Edition. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998. Gil Hinshaw, Tucumcari: Gateway to the West (A History of Quay County).

In 1907 a Methodist minister created a story about how the name evolved. 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."

  • Last visit to Tucumcari: Jan 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (7)

Comments (4)

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Oct 26, 2013 at 6:05 AM

    Nice tips will be passing by tmw and looking to see if there's any reason to stop

    • Yaqui's Profile Photo
      Oct 26, 2013 at 6:58 AM

      It's a small city, but worth a look because there is more to see around it and if you like murals they have more. I was moving my sister cross country in a 24 ft moving truck with a flat bed trailer with her car, so I had to stick to the main streets to explore:) I so wished I had more time as usual.

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Mar 3, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    We didn't get this far east in NM so nice to pay a virtual visit :-)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Feb 11, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    As a child I used to think I would someday hitchhike from Chicago to Los Angeles on Route 66, going through small towns like this one.

    • Yaqui's Profile Photo
      Feb 14, 2013 at 6:51 PM

      I wanted to explore it more, but my sister was in a hurry to get on the road. Someday:) Thanks for stopping by.

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Feb 4, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    Interesting story about the name Tucumcari (even if it was created by a Methodist minister).

    • Yaqui's Profile Photo
      Feb 4, 2013 at 8:51 PM

      It's amazing story and a very sad one. Yet, Tucumcari is the beginning of my story. Its where my parents got married:) Thank you for stopping by.


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