Montoya, New Mexico
The Richardson Store is located
between the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks and Route 66 at the
site of the village of Montoya, NM. It is presently vacant and
closed to the public, and may be viewed from the road.
Located in the heart of Montoya, New
Mexico, Richardsons Store initially provisioned railroad workers
and ranchers and later expanded to serve highway crews and
tourists on Route 66. Like many southwestern towns, Montoya
began as a stopping point along a major railway. In this case,
the stop was along the Rock Island Railroad. During construction
of the line in 1901, Montoya became a settlement for a crew of
workers. The town is roughly halfway between Tucumcari and Santa
Rosa and was about a day’s ride from both at the time of its
formation. Mesa Rica rises on one side and Mesa Las Palomas on
the other. Mesquite, junipers, and cactus cover the landscape.
Montoya residents and the surrounding ranchers depended on
windmills and storage tanks for water. Even in this arid
setting, G. W. Richardson, an experienced storekeeper from
Missouri, sensed possibility. He moved to New Mexico and started
a store in Montoya in 1908.
In 1918, New Mexico began
improving the road between Tucumcari and Santa Rosa, leading to
substantial traffic through the town. As had the railroad crews
and ranchers before them, highway workers boosted the town’s
population and economy. They also patronized Richardson Store.
The same year as the road improvements, Richardson relocated his
store across the railroad tracks, closer to the road, and
replaced his wooden store with the current red sandstone
building. The road eventually became part of the national
highway network and a leg of Route 66. Despite poor weather and
marketing conditions and a resultant exodus of ranchers in the
early 1920s, Montoya’s highway connection enabled the town to
thrive with Richardson Store at its core.
1930s and 1940s, travelers found a cool oasis and something to
drink under the tall elms that shaded Richardson Store. Designed
to be as cool as possible, with a big portico out front shading
the windows and the gas pumps, the store has a recessed front
door and high windows designed to let in light and a breeze but
not sunlight. The store adjoined a picnic grove and carried
groceries and auto supplies for tourists and residents and also
stocked saddle blankets, work gloves, feed buckets, and windmill
parts for local ranchers. Like other local stores of the period,
Richardson’s place was also a community meeting spot, complete
with post office boxes and a postal service window. The portico
is painted white to reflect the sunlight, as is the west side of
the building, where bold, if faded stenciled letters read
In 1956, crews built Interstate 40
several hundred yards south of the old Richardson Store. An
interchange provided continued traveler access, but the distance
and speed of the interstate caused a dramatic drop in business
and ultimately the abandonment of the store.
and local artifacts are still visible inside the front windows.
Along the east side of the building, away from the area’s
prevailing west winds, is the old Richardson residence, complete
with a pump shed at the corner. Those who remember say that the
Richardsons cultivated a wide yard outside of their dwelling,
and that the area drew songbirds. The National Park Service
listed the Richardson Store in the National Register of Historic
Places in 1978.