The old village of Romeroville, New Mexico, was situated on the Santa Fe Trail, the Ozark Trail Highway, and the pre-1937 alignment of Route 66.
Located south of I-25 and east of U.S. Highway 84, the village of Romeroville didn’t exist during the early Spanish or Mexican settlement of the area as it was too far from the capital at Santa Fe, and its location was exposed to Comanche and Apache raids. The settlement also did not exist during the early days of the Santa Fe Trail.
By 1851, 16-year-old Trinidad Romero, from a prominent New Mexico family, was working in the family merchandising and freight operation that drove oxen teams on the Santa Fe Trail between St. Louis and Independence, Missouri to Las Vegas and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
At some point, he and his brother, Eugenio, became the beneficiaries of a large land grant, including a 3,300-acre ranch in San Miguel County. Both men, while continuing their business interests, became politicians. In 1878 with the arrival of the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railroad, Trinidad Romero, with his brother and their father, started the Romero Mercantile Company in Las Vegas.
In 1880, Trinidad Romero built a 32-room mansion and ranch at the current site of Romeroville. The mansion, which cost about $100,000 to build, was described as having high ceiling rooms paneled in walnut, a spacious ballroom, and a wide curving stairway. The house was surrounded by a large ranch where both sheep and cattle were raised. Here, Romero entertained many illustrious guests, including President Rutherford B. Hayes and General William Tecumseh Sherman. However, Romero didn’t stay here long, as he sold the property in 1886 and moved to Wagon Mound, New Mexico, where he had another ranch. After changing hands several times, it became a sanitorium In 1905. It burned down in 1932.
In the meantime, a ranching community had grown up around Romero’s mansion that continued to survive. When the Ozark Trail Highway was established in 1915, Romeroville was chosen as the western terminus due to its location on the Santa Fe Trail. This highway lasted until 1926, when it was replaced in the area by Route 66.
Though Romeroville was a key junction on several important highways, there is little here today other than a smattering of houses, old buildings, and a modern gas station at the junction of I-25 and U.S. Highway 84. The town’s post office closed in 1953, at which time, mail was delivered from Las Vegas.
Following I-25 to the southwest, the highway makes its way to Tecolote, just about five miles beyond Romeroville.
© Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated April 2021.
Route 66 Pre-1937 Alignment in New Mexico
Santa Fe Trail Through the Pecos River Valley
Hinkley, Jim; Route 66 Encylopedia, Voyageur Press, 2016
Work Progress Administration, New Mexico A Guide To The Colorful State, 1940