Looking for corruption, intrigue, power, and murder? Then you need to check out the Lincoln State Historic Site in Lincoln, New Mexico. Populated in the 1870s and 1880s by the likes of Jon Chisum and Billy the kid and the site of the infamous Lincoln County War, the Lincoln Historic Site is actually the most popular state monument in New Mexico!
The Lincoln County War was a major part of one of the most violent periods in the history of New Mexico. What began as a business disagreement between wealthy, English newcomer, John Tunstall, and established (but corrupt) businessmen Lawrence Murphy and James Dolan, ended in the deaths of between 30 and 60 people in only five months, including Billy the Kid after the “war” ended.
The site itself looks much like it did in the late 1800s and is home to 17 different buildings, thanks to a generous gift from the Hubbard Family Trust. Four of the buildings are open year round, and two others are open seasonally.
• Old Lincoln County Courthouse - Billy the Kid was held here. Exhibits show the building’s use as a store, residence, Masonic Lodge and eventually courthouse and jail.
• Tunstall Store - The store’s original 19th century merchandise is on display.
• Torreon - a 20-foot (6.1 m)-high round stone tower originally built near the center of town in the 1860s, served as a refuge during attacks by Mescalero Apaches.
• Montano Store - Features exhibits on adobe construction and the Hispanic culture that was prevalent during the Lincoln County War.
• San Juan Mission Church (La Iglesia de San Juan Bautista) - Built in 1887, the Roman Catholic Church is open to the public and is still used for services today.
• Anderson-Freeman Visitors Center - A non-historical building with exhibits about the town’s history starting with American Indian pre-history up to the Lincoln County War. A video details the history of the war.
There are lots of other interesting attractions nearby, so make it a weekend trip!
• Fort Stanton Historic Site is 10 miles West by US 380 & NM 220
• Smokey Bear Historical Park is 12 miles west in Capitan.
• The Hubbard Museum of the American West is 34 miles by US 380 & US 70 in Ruidoso Downs.
• Valley of Fires National Recreation Area is 34 miles west on US 380.
• The Roswell Museum and Art Center and The International U.F.O. Museum and Research Center are 57 miles east in Roswell.
• In addition Ruidoso, Ruidoso Downs, and the Mescalero Apache Reservation have between them 2 casinos, a horse racing track, 4 public golf courses, and a downhill ski resort.
Phone : 575-653-4025
Open 8:30am to 4:30pm 7 days a week. Closed New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.