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This article is about the city in New Mexico, USA. For other uses see Tucumcari (disambiguation).

Tucumcari, New Mexico
—  City  —
Quay County Courthouse

Seal
Location of Tucumcari in New Mexico
Coordinates: 35°10′10″N 103°43′32″W / 35.16944°N 103.72556°W / 35.16944; -103.72556Coordinates: 35°10′10″N 103°43′32″W / 35.16944°N 103.72556°W / 35.16944; -103.72556
Country United States
State New Mexico
County Quay
Founded 1901
Government
 - Mayor Antonio Apodaca
Area
 - Total 7.6 sq mi (19.6 km2)
 - Land 7.5 sq mi (19.5 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 4,091 ft (1,247 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 5,989
 Density 793.8/sq mi (306.5/km2)
Time zone MST (UTC-7)
 - Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP code 88401
Area code(s) 575
FIPS code 35-79910
GNIS feature ID 0915909
Website City of Tucumcari

Tucumcari is a city in and the county seat of Quay County, New Mexico, United States.[1] The population was 5,989 at the 2000 census. Tucumcari was founded in 1901, two years before Quay County was founded.[2]

Contents

History

In 1901, the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad built a construction camp in the western portion of modern-day Quay County. Owing to numerous gunfights, the camp became known as Six Shooter Siding. After it grew into a permanent settlement, it was renamed Tucumcari in 1908. The name was taken from Tucumcari Mountain, which is situated near the community.[3]

Geography

Tucumcari is located at 35°10′10″N 103°43′32″W / 35.16944°N 103.72556°W / 35.16944; -103.72556 (35.169453, -103.725488).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7.6 square miles (19.6 km²), of which, 7.5 square miles (19.5 km²) of it is land and 0.13% is water.

Climate data for Tucumcari
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 53
(11.7)
58
(14.4)
65
(18.3)
72
(22.2)
81
(27.2)
90
(32.2)
93
(33.9)
91
(32.8)
84
(28.9)
74
(23.3)
62
(16.7)
53
(11.7)
73
(22.8)
Average low °F (°C) 23
(-5)
27
(-2.8)
34
(1.1)
42
(5.6)
51
(10.6)
60
(15.6)
64
(17.8)
63
(17.2)
55
(12.8)
44
(6.7)
32
(0)
24
(-4.4)
44
(6.7)
Precipitation inches (mm) 0.4
(10.2)
0.5
(12.7)
0.7
(17.8)
1.2
(30.5)
2.3
(58.4)
1.8
(45.7)
2.6
(66)
2.7
(68.6)
1.4
(35.6)
1.3
(33)
0.7
(17.8)
0.7
(17.8)
16.1
(408.9)
Source: [5] 2010-01-25

|

Demographics

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 5,989 people, 2,489 households, and 1,607 families residing in the city. The population density was 793.8 people per square mile (306.7/km²). There were 3,065 housing units at an average density of 406.2/sq mi (156.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 75.87% White, 1.29% African American, 1.39% Native American, 1.20% Asian, 0.22% Pacific Islander, 17.10% from other races, and 2.94% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 51.41% of the population.

There were 2,489 households out of which 29.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.4% were married couples living together, 15.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.4% were non-families. 31.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.93.

In the city the population was spread out with 26.0% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 90.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $22,560, and the median income for a family was $27,468. Males had a median income of $25,342 versus $18,568 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,786. About 19.1% of families and 24.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.5% of those under age 18 and 16.7% of those age 65 or over.

Legend surrounding the area

Legend has it that Apache Chief Wautonomah was nearing the end of his time on earth and was troubled by the question of who would succeed him as ruler of the tribe. In a classic portrait of love and competition, his two finest braves, Tonopah and Tocom, were not only rivals and sworn enemies of one another, but were both vying for the hand of Kari, Chief Wantonomah's daughter. Kari knew her heart belonged to Tocom. Chief Wautonomah beckened Tonopah and Tocom to his side and announced, "Soon I must die and one of you must succeed me as chief. Tonight you must take your long knives and meet in combat to settle the matter between you. He who survives shall be the Chief and have for his squaw, Kari, my daughter."

As ordered, the two braves met, with knives outstretched, in mortal combat. Unknown to either brave was the fact that Kari was hiding nearby. When Tonopah's knife found the heart of Tocom, the young squaw rushed from her hiding place and used a knife to take Tonopah's life, as well as her own.

When Chief Wautonomah was shown this tragic scene, heartbreak enveloped him and he buried his daughter's knife deep into his own heart, crying out in agony, "Tocom-Kari"!

A slight variation of the Chief's dying words live on today as Tucumcari, and the mountain which bares this name stands as a stark reminder of unfulfilled love.

Some credit this folktale to Geronimo. More skeptical and less romantic historians believe the word Tucumcari is a derivation from the Comanche word tukanukaru, which means to lie in wait for something. There's historical veracity to this explanation, since the mountain (actually a mesa) was known to be a Comanche lookout many years ago.

In popular culture

Tucumcari is mentioned in several songs, including:

Tucumcari Tonite/Route 66

Route 66 sculpture in Tucumcari

For many years, Tucumcari has been a popular stop for cross-country travelers on Interstate 40 (formerly U.S. Route 66 in the area). It is the largest city on the highway between Amarillo, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Billboards reading "TUCUMCARI TONITE!" placed along I-40 for many miles to the east and west of the town invite motorists to stay the night in one of Tucumcari's "2000" (later changed to "1200") motel rooms. The "TUCUMCARI TONITE!" campaign was abandoned in favor of a campaign which declared Tucumcari, "Gateway to the West". However, on June 24, 2008, Tucumcari's Lodgers Tax Advisory Board, the group responsible for the billboards, voted to return to the previous slogan.[10]

Old U.S. Route 66 runs through the heart of Tucumcari via Route 66 Boulevard, which was previously known as Tucumcari Boulevard from 1970 to 2003 and as Gaynell Avenue before that time. Numerous businesses, including gasoline service stations, restaurants and motels, were constructed to accommodate tourists as they traveled through on the Mother Road. A large number of the vintage motels and restaurants built in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s are still in business despite intense competition from newer chain motels and restaurants in the vicinity of Interstate 40, which passes through the city's outskirts on the south.

Historic Downtown

The Federal Building (Sands Dorsey Drug) burned on June 8, 2007

Most of Tucumcari's oldest buildings lie along or near Main Street in the Historic Downtown area. These include:

  • Crescent Creamery (vacant)
  • Federal Building, commonly known as Sands-Dorsey Drug (fire damaged and vacant)[11]
  • Masonic Temple
  • Odeon Theater
  • Princess Theater (fire damaged and vacant)
  • Rock Island - Southern Pacific Train Depot

Also located in the downtown area are the concrete arches that once surrounded the Vorenburg Hotel, which was demolished in the 1970s after being damaged by fire.

USS Tucumcari

The city has the honor of having a United States Navy hydrofoil named after it. The USS Tucumcari (PGH-2) was built by Boeing. It began service in 1968 and ended service in 1972 after running aground in Puerto Rico.

Schools

Mesalands Community College

Schools in Tucumcari cover all groups from daycare to post-secondary education.

  • Tucumcari Early Head Start and Head Start (non-public daycare and preschool)
  • Tucumcari Elementary School (public Pre-K through fifth grade)
  • Tucumcari Middle School (public sixth grade through eighth grade)
  • Tucumcari High School (public ninth grade through twelfth grade)
  • Mesalands Community College (community two-year institution of higher learning)

People and events

Tom "Black Jack" Ketchum and his associates robbed a post office and store in Liberty, NM, a community that dissolved after the railroad bypassed it. Many of Liberty's residents moved to the nearby railroad siding that eventually became Tucumcari.

Musician Bob Scobey was born in Tucumcari in 1916.[12] The following year, American character actor Paul Brinegar was born in Tucumcari as well.

In December 1951, a water storage tank collapsed in the city. Four were killed and numerous buildings were destroyed.

Tucumcari High School graduate Stan David was a star safety for the Texas Tech Red Raiders and played 16 NFL games for the Buffalo Bills in 1984. He was listed as number 48 in the Sports Illustrated list of "The 50 Greatest New Mexico Sports Figures."[13]

The buildings at Metropolitan Park (locally known as "Five Mile Park" because it is located about five miles (8 km) outside of town) were designed by Trent Thomas, adapted from his design of La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe. The park once featured New Mexico's largest outdoor swimming pool. Owing to deterioration, Metropolitan Park was named to the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance's list of Most Endangered for 2003.[14] The cost for complete renovation is estimated at ten million dollars.

Each year since 1992, the town has held the Tucumcari Air Show. The show held on October 4, 2006, was cancelled after one hour when a single-engine plane crashed, resulting in the pilot's death.[15]

Rex Maddaford, who competed for the New Zealand team in the 1968 Summer Olympics, has been a long-time Tucumcari Public Schools faculty member. He is currently a teacher at Tucumcari High School.[16]

See also

References

Train station in Tucumcari

External links

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Simple English

Tucumcari, New Mexico
—  City  —
Quay County Courthouse
Coordinates: 35°10′10″N 103°43′32″W / 35.16944°N 103.72556°W / 35.16944; -103.72556
Country United States
State New Mexico
County Quay
Founded 1901
Government
 - Mayor Antonio Apodaca
Area
 - Total 7.6 sq mi (19.6 km2)
 - Land 7.5 sq mi (19.5 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 4,091 ft (1,247 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 5,989
 Density 793.8/sq mi (306.5/km2)
Time zone MST (UTC-7)
 - Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP code 88401
Area code(s) 575
FIPS code 35-79910
GNIS feature ID 0915909
Website City of Tucumcari

Tucumcari is a city in the U.S. state of New Mexico. It was founded in 1901 and is the county seat of Quay County.

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