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McKinley County Ghost Towns

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McKinley County New Mexico in 1943

McKinley County near Gallup, New Mexico in 1943


McKinley County Ghost Towns

Some Remnants:




Totally Gone:









Cherokee Herbal Remedies from the Rocky Mountain General Store

Natural Remedies from

 the medicine cabinet of

 Mother Earth.


Gallup, New Mexico is surrounded by ghosts -- not the spooky, "raise the hair on the back of your neck" type ghosts, but rather, more than a dozen ghost towns. While some have a few buildings, perhaps a mine shaft and some ruins, other have been totally obliterated and taken over by the sagebrush, leaving nothing more than their memories and a few rolling tumbleweeds.

What happened to all of those towns? Why did they begin and why did they end?

For the first half of the 20th century, McKinley County was largely supported by plentiful coal mining. In fact, for a while, Gallup was called "Carbon City."  Much of the early population were those European, Oriental, Mexican and westward-seeking American workers who sought employment in the mines, as well as building the rails. Many of these early towns were coal mining company towns, with little more to support their economies other than the mining itself. In many cases, the town's banks and stores were owned by the mining companies. So, when the mine shut down, so did the town.

Though McKinley County was created in 1889 and named in honor of President William McKinley, many of these towns didn't begin until after the turn of the century. Even Gallup, the largest city in the county, was not incorporated until 1891. In 1901, Gallup became the county seat.


Camp Heaton, New Mexico early 1900s

Camp Heaton, New Mexico in the early 1900s. Hard to believe a camp this size
 has absolutely disappeared from the face of the earth. Photo courtesy Denver Public Library.


Heaton, New Mexico

Heaton, also called Camp Heaton, was a coal-mining company town in Heaton Canyon, about 3 miles northeast of Gallup. Its post office opened in 1909 and closed in 1922. The coal mine at Heaton was operated by the Gallup American Coal Company. The community was founded in the early 1900's, and was abandoned when the mine closed. Nothing remains of Heaton today as its buildings were moved to nearby Gamerco, which was also ran by the Gallup American Coal Company.


Mentmore, New Mexico

Four miles west of Gallup, was once the small town of Mentmore, New Mexico. The town began in 1913 when the Dilco Coal Mine was opened by the Direct Coal Company. Originally the camp was also named Dilco, but whan a post office was established the name became Mentmore. In 1918, George Kaseman of Albuquerque purchased the Dilco Mine property and the Morris Mine located a mile to the north. He combined the properties under the name of the Defiance Coal Company.

The town of Mentmore, built around the mines, was comprised of a company store, a post office, a school, and the power plant. The employees lived in the company-owned frame houses comprised of two to four rooms that were equipped with electricity and running water. Eight grades were taught at the Mentmore school, and free bus transportation to Gallup was supplied for the high school students. The population was about five hundred persons.


When the mines closed at Mentmore in 1952, the town closed too.

In 1975 there was an operating combination store and post office, plus about ten houses in good repair remaining in the once-active coal town.  

However, all that is left today is the old trading post, which now serves as a church, and a few foundations.  

The town site is privately owned. Mentmore is four miles west of Gallup on US Interstate 40, then exit at #16 north for one mile.


Continued Next Page

Former Mentmore Post Office

Former Mentmore Post Office, August 1997,

Thomas K. Todsen, NMSU Library

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