Monday, October 2, 2017

Geezer X - Day 3: Billy the Kid Scenic Byway

September 19

The plan for today was to drive the Billy the Kid Scenic Byway.  We decided to make sandwiches and have a picnic lunch so after everyone wandered in and had their breakfast we packed the cooler, loaded the car and hit the road.  Since Greg doesn’t arrive until tomorrow, there were only five of us, which means we would all fit in one car.  We took my 4-Runner and although the three in the backseat were a bit squeezed in we all fit.

Our first stop was the Byway Visitor Center in Ruidoso Downs where we got a more detailed look at Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County War.  It was very interesting and I was very surprised to see just how big Lincoln County is; it takes up the whole Southeastern quarter of New Mexico.  John told me to be sure and use the men’s restroom before I left and I thought he was just reminding me of the long drive ahead, but as evidenced by the picture below, I was very surprised by who I was sharing the restroom with.

I didn't expect to find him in the restroom.
Oh well, when nature calls.

After everyone checked out and took pictures of the men’s restroom we were on our way again.  Along the byway there were many markers showing where a shootout took place or someone was killed.  I really had no idea of how lawless and violent this area was before New Mexico became a state.  Our next stop was the old community of Lincoln, which was the center of commerce during the Lincoln County War and for a short time, the county seat of Lincoln County after New Mexico became a state.

Our first stop in Lincoln was the Old Lincoln County Courthouse, which was originally the Murphy-Dolan Store (simply called "The House" back in the day), which was at the heart of the Lincoln County War.  When it became the courthouse it also housed the county jail.  We walked around and looked at the exhibits which were very interesting.  This is where Pat Garrett resided when he was sheriff of Lincoln County.  Also, Billy the Kid escaped the jail here and killed a deputy; you can see a bullet hole at the bottom stairs where the deputy was killed.

"The House", the Old Lincoln County Store/Courthouse.
The courtroom.
The only known photo of Billy the Kid.  This is a copy, the original sold for over two-million dollars.
We next visited the Lincoln Visitor’s Center and Museum where we watched a documentary on the Lincoln County War; again, very interesting.  Preceding the documentary, a series of movie trailers were shown of some of the numerous Billy the Kid movies that have been made, amazing.  After a long visit at the museum, everyone was hungry so we had our picnic at a very nice little park in the center of town.  Lincoln is a very authentic western town and although catering to tourists, there is not any of the fake western theme that you see in a lot of tourist places.

Lunch time
A nearby restroom.
Room for two.
After lunch, we visited a couple of shops and then got back on the byway for the trip back to Ruidoso.  We made no more stops, but the countryside was very scenic so it was a nice drive.  I never knew much about this area, but learning about the history of Lincoln County has been fascinating.  I’ve heard the names of Pat Garrett, Billythe Kid, John Chisum, and many others, but I never knew how their lives intertwined and the parts they played in the Lincoln County War.  It is tempting to go into more detail, but I couldn’t do it justice so follow the links to learn more, it is really interesting.

We got back to the house in the late afternoon and kicked back and rested until dinner.  For dinner, Steph made spaghetti, which was delicious, Steph is an excellent cook.  Val brought this set of cards with questions to spark conversation on specific topics and so we did this during dinner, which turned out to be a lot of fun.  In keeping with our theme, I brought the movie “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid” so we spent the rest of the evening watching that.  We were all pretty tired and the movie didn’t end until 11:00 so we all headed off to bed, the end of another great day.

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