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Area History


New Mexico offers a brilliant look at the wild, wild west. The original inhabitants of New Mexico were the Indians, especially the Apache. With the influx of Gold Miners coming into the area during the 1850's, the Apache tended to fight for the right to their lands. They couldn't hold on after long and New Mexico became an American territory.

Many of the inhabitants of New Mexico were prospectors whose dreams were dashed by slim pickens in California. News of the Gold Rush had brought many thousands of people to California, hoping to bind their fortunes. The year 1848 was a lucrative year for the California gold rush, but by the end of 1849, there were so many people in California searching for gold, news of someone striking it rich were rare. This led many people to start their searches elsewhere, leading them eastward toward the new territories, such as New Mexico.

Lincoln County was set up like all others as a place for gold miners to live and spend their leisure time. Lincoln County became a true "Wild West" hub for cowboys to become involved in debaucherous activity. By the 1870's, Lincoln County became the site of a violent conflict between wealthy landowners and ranchers, and the also wealthy owners of the monopolistic general store, the trading hub of Lincoln County known as "The House." The argument arose over some horses that were to be used as payment. John Tunstall, a 24-year-old landowner, was court ordered to give up some horses as payment for an outstanding debt. Tunstall hired a group of hooligans to guard his property, and eventual violence broke out. The group of hooligans included Billy The Kid and Curly Bill Brocius (soon to become the ultimate nemesis of our favorite wild-west character, Wyatt Earp).

After wide spread violence, the group of hooligans became outlaws, and were eventually hunted down and killed by Pat Garrett. (If you want more information, watch Sam Peckinpahs famous film, Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid). Former Union General Lee Wallace came in and offered amnesty and a truce between the two parties.

With the coming of the Homesteaders and the turn of the century, Lincoln County gave over to its smaller communities and became a hub of tourism. Many towns were built just around that, including the mountain town of Ruidoso.

Laid snug in the Sierra Blanca Mountains, Ruidoso is a small resort town also located smack dab in the middle of the Lincoln National Forest. Its lush golf courses and endless hiking trails bring thousands of people here every year, all year round, to enjoy in the splendors of the wild west.