Another Side Trip – To The Old West

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We had been looking forward to a visit from our Arizona friends, Karen and Roland.  They had just returned from Europe and upon their return, headed out on the 400 mile journey to Ruidoso.

During their brief visit, we decided to take a side trip through historic Lincoln County, NM and the towns of Capitan, NM and Lincoln, NM.   But first, breakfast.  We highly recommend the Cornerstone Bakery in Ruidoso.  They have a wide range of great tasting breakfasts on their menu.  Parking a large pickup in their lot can be a problem because they are quite busy.



Our first “stop” was the town of Capitan, best known for being the birthplace of Smokey the Bear.


A vote was taken in the car and the decision not to tour the Smokey Bear Museum prevailed.  I’m certain that it would have been fascinating.  So, off to the town of Lincoln we headed.

Lincoln is an extremely well preserved old west town and famous for several of its residents and the Lincoln County War.  The war was a skirmish over control of the dry goods and cattle industries in the area.  Merchant LG Murphy and cattleman John Chisum were key players.  The war claimed a total of 22 killed and 9 wounded.

The appointment of Pat Garrett was named county sheriff.    He and his men hunted down and dispatched participants in the skirmish.  The famous outlaw, Billy the Kid was one of these participants and was killed by Garrett in July of 1881.

The buildings in the area were quite interesting.  The wide range of construction techniques is amazing.  Here is the Torreon tower that was used as defense against the Apache Indians.


Karen, coming around the building, helps give perspective to the tower size.


Looking at the inside, it was pretty tight living conditions.  It also seems that if the Indians were patient, the place would be a death trap.

Other stick and mud structures, called jacals, were used by early settlers in Lincoln.



Some structures were a combination of adobe and rock.  Not all of these structures have held up to the elements.


On the other hand, many of the adobe buildings remain in pretty good shape.


Real estate opportunities abound.  How about this fine structure.


The town has several signs describing historical events.  The author of these signs apparently didn’t have the best grasp of the English language, but he had a knack for turning a phrase.  I especially like, the one where Mr. Ollinger  “rushed to his death at the hands of William H. Bonney”.  (William Bonney is the real name of Billy the Kid)


A more modern side note involves the Columbus Rock.


The 567 crew members of the SS Columbus, a German ocean liner, were detained at nearby Fort Stanton after they scuttled their ship to keep it from falling in the hands of the British in 1939.  As a token of appreciation to the residents of Lincoln, the crew carved this rock and presented it to the town.

It seems like all of the little towns along the way are home to one famous artist or another.  They are designated by “loops” that take you to their galleries.  Our journey continued with a stop at the Peter Hurd Gallery in San Patricio, NM.  Hurd is famous for his official portrait of Lyndon Johnson.


Except for the Christmas lights that remain on the eaves, it is an unremarkable gallery.  The artwork inside, however, was spectacular.  There were paintings and prints by Hurd and his wife Henriette Wyeth along with paintings by several members of the Hurd family and related Wyeth family.


When we arrived, artist Michael Hurd, Peter’s son, and his wife were moving several paintings to a van to take to the Inn of the Gods for a showing.  It was kind of like having our own personal moving art show.   We got a nice view as they were spirited out the door.

An avid polo fan, Peter built a polo field in his front yard.


His residence was on the far side of the field.

We finished the journey by grabbing a nice lunch at Elena’s Place, a Mexican Restaurant in Ruidoso.   The food was quite good.  Perhaps a little spicy for some, but we enjoyed it.

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