When the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, later the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, picked a route for their westbound tracks in 1881, they followed sections of established stagecoach routes. The railroad paymaster, David Gallup, decided to open an office at the stagecoach stop, which was on the construction right-of-way for the proposed tracks. The railroad promptly became the largest employer in the region. Men would “go to Gallup” to pick up their pay. In the absence of an official name, the growing community became Gallup.
With the influx of visitors, small businesses flourished on Main Street; hotels, restaurants, gift shops, galleries, and a variety of entertainment venues. Due to the proximity to Zuni Pueblo, Hopi Three Mesas, and the Navajo Nation, Gallup featured dozens of trading posts specializing in authentic Native American arts and crafts. In fact, several of the vintage trading posts are still around, with both the business and the relationships with the artists passed down from one generation to the next. As a result, Gallup has a better selection and lower prices than anywhere else in New Mexico. This is where collectors and galleries are sourcing their products. It's also a great place for artisans to buy supplies due to the unusually high local demand.