What would southern New Mexico be without Billy the Kid? The legends define the outlaw, but he had a real-life presence — especially in Doña Ana County.
A tour of Billy the Kid haunts is part of the Monuments-To-Main-Street festival. On Sept. 3 and again Sept. 17-18, you’ll be able to tour locations familiar to the Kid.
The tour will begin in Mesilla in the old courthouse — what today is the Billy the Kid Gift Shop on the southeast corner of the plaza. The adobe building, with its 18-inch-thick walls, vigas, and latillas, predates the Civil War. It was owned by Narcisco Valencia, who sold it to Zanobia Madrid in 1859. She ran a general store in the building until after the war, when Doña Ana County acquired it as a courthouse and jail.
It was here in 1881, Billy the Kid stood trial for the assassination of Sheriff William Brady during the Lincoln County War. Billy was the only man charged, although witnesses claimed Brady had as many as a dozen gunshot wounds made from perhaps six different weapons. He was convicted and sentenced to hang. The iron-bar cell in which he had been incarcerated is now part of the Gadsden Museum, located across Highway 28 on Barker Road.
Billy was returned to Lincoln for execution of his sentence, but he escaped, killing his two guards. Billy the Kid died later that same year, shot to death at the Maxwell ranch near Fort Stanton by Sheriff Pat Garrett.
Now, before he died, Billy experienced colorful adventures — mostly related to stealing cattle and horses and defending Alexander McSween and the Regulators during the Lincoln County War.
The Monuments-To-Main-Street Billy the Kid tour next takes you north to Outlaw Rock in Stolen Horse Canyon, just west of Fort Selden in the Robledo Mountains Wilderness Study Area.
In historic times, soldiers from Fort Selden followed a wagon road that ran southwest of the fort to meet and escort travelers on the Butterfield Overland Mail wagon road en route to and from Silver City. The river bottom was stable near the fort, making it easier to cross the Rio Grande there (during low flow periods) than it was farther south near the communities of Picacho and Mesilla. A ferry transported travelers when the river was higher.
A short way into the canyon is a rocky outcropping, offering a vantage point for outlaws to keep tabs on the soldiers at the fort. The legend is that five famous ones did just that. Presumably, more than 125 years ago, William Bonney (aka Billy the Kid), Charles Bowdre,Tom O’Folliard, Dave Rudabaugh, and John Kinney took the time to scratch their names or initials on the rock.
Garrett hunted and killed Bowdre just four days after he had shot and killed Tom O’Folliard. Rudabaugh escaped to Mexico, where he was eventually killed and then stood up in a box for all the world to see. John Kinney spent his final years as an “honest man” after serving three years in prison for his “outlaw ways.”
The men who left their names on Outlaw Rock could never have known how their names and deeds would be transformed into timeless stories and legends, some of which — actually — are true.
The tour concludes at Fort Selden, established in 1865 and home to Buffalo Soldiers, — African-American calvary and infantry whom among others protected the settles in Mesilla Valley from outlaws and Indians.
Original artical can be found here: http://www.lcsun-news.com/story/life/sunlife/2016/08/19/legend-billy-kid-alive-and-well-do-ana-county/88839826/