McKinley County was created in 1901 and named for President William McKinley. Its population is approximately 74,923 with a total area of 5,455 square miles.
Over three-quarters of its population are Native American with residents from the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni tribes. The county seat is the Gallup, the most populous city between Flagstaff and Albuquerque along the historic U.S. Route 66.
Gallup is known as the “Heart of Indian Country” because it is on the edge of the Navajo reservation. As one of the oldest towns in the U.S., Gallup’s population can be traced back to 2500 BC with the settlement of the Anasazi in Canyon de Chelly. As a railhead for the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad that brought increased trading to the area, Gallup was then founded in 1881. In 1937, the El Rancho Hotel became the temporary home for many Hollywood stars as well as a stopping point for tourists driving on old Route 66. Because of the nearby rugged terrain, it was a popular location in the 1940’s and 1950’s to film Hollywood westerns.