Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lincoln County, New Mexico

We just returned from a week-long trip through New Mexico and I have so much to write about that I don't know where to start!

We drove through Lincoln, New Mexico, 57 miles west of Roswell, where Billy the Kid became involved in the Lincoln County War and the Battle of Lincoln, a historically important range war that took place between July 15 and 19th in 1878.

The buildings and houses look much smaller than I had imagined--Lincoln County was once the largest County in the United States. The historical buildings line both sides of U.S. Route 380 and the town itself is a treat for tourists--the area was meticulously preserved by local residents.

The home of James Dolan still stands in Lincoln. Dolan was a participant in the Lincoln County War. He was Lawrence Murphy's business partner. Both men were Civil War veterans, originally from Ireland, and well-known in the area for their unethical business practices.

The Tunstall and McSween store is also still standing, in spite of the fact that both men were killed during the conflict. Alexander McSween was a lawyer who partnered with John Tunstall, an English cattleman and banker. The two men competed for business with Dolan and Murphy. The business practices of McSween and Tunstall were ethical and honest. Unfortunately, and in contrast to Murphy and Dolan, McSween and Tunstall lacked the support of corrupt politicians from Santa Fe.

There is an odd-shaped building on this street that I've never seen or heard of before this trip. It is called Torreon. It is a large, circular, brick building constructed in the 1850s. The Torreon was used to protect Spanish-Americans from attacks by the Apache. It was also used by Murphy's sharpshooters during the Lincoln County War.

Books and films, such as Young Guns, portraying the life and experiences of Billy the Kid are interesting, but it is a completely different experience to actually walk down the sidewalks where these small, yet historically important conflicts took place.

While in Lincoln County, we also encountered a small herd of Barbary Sheep. These sheep look more like the "Wild West" than many cowboys I've seen with their woolly coats and long, curved horns. They were first imported into zoos in the United States from their native homes in Northern Africa in the 1950s, but they have acclimated so well in New Mexico, Texas, and other areas that their population in New Mexico alone is estimated to be around 20,000!

Christmas dinner for a family, from a series of photos documenting Gen. John J. Pershing's 1916 Punitive Expedition into Mexico. ...