A Walk Along Main Street in Lincoln, New Mexico
By Paul & Teresa Lowe www.chronicletravelers.com
Take a drive along US Route 380 through southern New Mexico - about an hour's trip west of Roswell, (a town famous for 'out of this world reasons,') - you'll come across the unique community of Lincoln. This is a town that's partially suspended in time – the 1870's and 80's. This is a town that's famous for being the one time home to Henry McCarty, a.k.a. William H. Bonney who is also known to history as 'Billy The Kid.'
During the days of 'Billy The Kid,' and his encounter with lawman Pat Garrett, the town was embroiled in the bloody Lincoln County War. The conflict was a fight over farming, mining and political territory and control of the region. For a while life in Lincoln was so precarious, with its frequent deadly gunfights and intimidating enforcers known as 'Regulators,' the 'Rustlers,' and the 'Murphy and Dolan Mercantile men,' that President Rutherford B. Hayes is said to have called Lincoln's Main Street “the most dangerous street in America.”
Today tourists, armed with cameras and questions for area park rangers, walk Lincoln's historic and protected Main Street looking inside houses, a church and the John Tunstall supply store and museum. This fascinating museum showcases many items of that time period. Walk into the Lincoln courthouse and jail and you see where 'Billy The Kid' was detained on a charge of murder but later escaped. Legend has it that the outlaw murdered two lawmen during his escape. Bullet holes in walls remain. In July of 1881, Pat Garrett tracked then shot and killed the Kid in or around Fort Sumner.
However, there are some folks from the area who say 'Billy The Kid' didn't die by the gun of Garrett. They argue that there was never an official death certificate issued by county leaders. This is the stuff that spawns one of the many wild legends of the wild west about outlaws and lawmen. The 'truth' is buried somewhere?
A walk through Lincoln, New Mexico really is like taking a fun and truly an educational trip into the old wild west.
In the spring thru fall months Lincoln, New Mexico hosts living history festivities for visitors. If you're a student of history and enjoy learning additional details about the history of a part of America, then a visit to Lincoln should be on your must-do list.