Ramah is a quiet, peaceful town, with just over 400 people, tucked in a fertile valley in the foothills of the Zuni Mountains, 44-miles southeast of Gallup. The community is bordered by the Zuni Reservation on the west, with the Ramah Navajo Reservation due south and the Cibola National Forest encircling the community from the north to the east. The abundance of petroglyphs and ruins in the region are a reminder that humans have inhabited the valley for centuries, or possibly longer.
The land in the Ramah valley is fertile, but with moderate annual rainfall, water supply has always been unpredictable. The founders of Ramah started working on a dam within a year of arrival to provide reliable irrigation for crops. Though the dam was washed out twice by flooding (1897 & 1905), the current dam has been in place since 1906, creating Ramah Lake. The reservoir was a popular fishing destination for decades, primarily for trout and catfish, but it has become a shallow silt pond over the last several years due to the prolonged drought in the region, which has impacted the fish population.
Ramah, as a settlement, is rich in history. Many of the stone houses built by the founders are intact and occupied, a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the builders. The first permanent store was established in 1901, a trading post opened by R.C. Master. Possibly due to Mormon influence (drinking is discouraged), there has only been one attempt to open a bar in Ramah’s history. That didn’t go over well with the locals. They destroyed it the morning after the grand opening.
Despite the dramatic repudiation of liquor, Ramah was surprisingly diverse early in its history. The remote area has always attracted an eclectic mix of people: Navajo, Zuni, ranchers, homesteaders, outlaws, artists, hippies, off-grid survivalists, and a variety of introverts who are taking “alone time” to the next level.