• Holiday Sale on Classic Black and White Images of Route 66 Landmarks

    Click Image

  • Along Route 66

    Click to Buy Book

  • Route 66

    First 66 Book

  • January 2009
    M T W T F S S
  • Categories

The Traders in Gallup

The Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni Reservations surround Gallup, a nineteenth century railroad town. Traditionally, Gallup traders took American Indian arts–jewelry, rugs, and pots–in trade for groceries, hardware, and dry goods.

They located their stores on the north side of the railroad tracks that cut down the north side of Gallup’s Railroad Avenue. When Route 66 came along, they moved their stores to the south side of the tracks and the north side of Railroad Avenue and began taking cash for American Indian jewelry and rugs from tourists coming though town on Route 66. 


LeRoy Atkinson's Trading Post, Box Canyon, Arizona

Leroy Atkinson's Trading Post, Box Canyon, Arizona

Leroy Akinson started in the trading business in Gallup, where the competition for the tourist dollar was very stiff. He worked in a traditional trading post that took Navajo crafts for food and dry goods. His boss opened a store on Route 66 in Gallup to dispose of their Indian goods to tourists. It was their only source of cash money.

Just after the beginning of World War II, Leroy opened his own shop in Box Canyon on the Arizona border.

To attract tourists he housed his shop in a pair of Navajo hogans, kept huge statues of pre-historic characters, and a herd of buffalo. 

After the U.S. established gas rationing for the duration of the war, Leroy looked out on Route 66, where he saw one truck coming down the road. He said, “What are we going to do now.”

The war ended, gas rationing ended, Americans took to the road, and Leroy’s business boomed. 

His business evolved into a very fancy shop in Gallup and three others and a wholesale jewelry operation that employed Navajo jewelers adjacent to the shop in Gallup.