Lamy was named for Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy, and the town lies within the Bishop John Lamy Spanish Land Grant, which dates to the 18th century. Lamy is primarily a railroad town. In 1879, as the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad laid its track through New Mexico, it bypassed Santa Fe because the grade for the roadbed leading to Santa Fe would have been too steep for the engines of the day. The railroad built a spur line to Santa Fe, and Lamy grew up where that spur connects to the main track.
In 1896, when the Fred Harvey Company built the luxurious El Ortiz Hotel by the train station, Lamy became an important railroad junction. Today, Lamy is a stop for Amtrak.
The Lamy Railroad and History Museum features the story of Lamy and the AT&SF railroad. It is housed in a building that dates to 1881. The building was originally the Browne and Manzanares General Store. John Pfleuger took over the store and added a saloon and in 1894 he imported a hand-carved, cherry-wood bar from Bavaria. The saloon and general store served as headquarters for the village’s businessmen.
In 1909, the Pfluegers sold the store and saloon to Thomas Hanna. In the mid-1930s, new owner Frank Teal remodeled the building. In early 1952, the building was renamed the Pink Garter Saloon and Restaurant. In 1969, the name changed again to the Legal Tender when the restaurant was purchased by a new owner. The Legal Tender Restaurant and Saloon closed in 1998. The last owner gave the building to the town with the intention that it should become a museum. The Lamy Railroad and History Museum opened in 2006.
The museum has exhibits that tell the history of Lamy and the railroad. The Santa Fe Model Railroad Club built a train layout showing Lamy, New Mexico about 1940. You can see the Harvey Hotel, El Ortiz, with the blue roof next to the station. The Pick General Store (the Legal Tender Building) is to the back and painted red. In front of the Legal Tender Building there is the Talladega Dining car, a 1950, vintage railroad car that was used by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, for meal service between New York and Florida.