History of The Area
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined.”
– Henry David Thoreau
A Jornada Mogollon Shaman stands on the mesa overlooking his people in the lush valley below with majestic Sierra Blanca rising behind him. The villagers tend to their busy lives working the fields and maintaining their pit houses. Children play games with their dogs and a stick. A young mother pours some ground corn into an ornate bowl. One of the dogs runs between her legs and knocks over an empty pot which shatters into small pieces in the dirt.
The Shaman pours some water from his beautiful Olla onto the rocky bluff. He watches the precious liquid disappear into the arid soil. His sacred companion, a brightly colored Macaw, comes to rest on his shoulder. They both know the future of his people. They soon will disappear with the water.
Some of the more adventurous Spanish Conquistadors travel East from the Rio Grande toward Sierra Blanca and the Capitan Mountains. They search for Aztec gold rumored to be in the Capitan’s unique east to west mountain range. The church has begun the inquisition and who knows what people they may come across in need of salvation.
They do not find the gold, however they do find remnants of cultures from the past who tell their story on petroglyphs of mystics and magic. Unable to settle at this time they head north not knowing of the violence that awaits them at the Pueblos near Santa Fe.
The Spanish return to one of the valleys carved out of majestic canyons by the Rio Bonito. They call their village Las Placitas del Rio Bonito, later the name is changed to Lincoln after President Abraham Lincoln. At the time the county was the largest in the United States.
Fort Stanton comes to Lincoln County!
The Fort was originally built to protect the settlers from the Mescalero Apache Indians which were located thirty miles southwest. Little did they know that they would have to protect the settlers from each other.
Confederate soldiers occupied the Fort until they got tired of their patrols being attached. They received orders to move to Mesilla, near Las Cruces. They burned the Fort as they retreated. It remained vacant until 1862 when Kit Carson arrived. Captain Paul Dowlin was stationed there at this time and in 1868 he and his brother opened Dowlin’s Mill, which was the beginning of what is now Ruidoso.
John Tunstall is killed! This is the beginning of the Lincoln County War. Some would like to think the war was about something glamorous or honorable, but it was really just a battle between two area merchants; the John Tunstall clan and the Murphy-Dolan bunch. The Fort and the Mescalero Apache Reservation created a great demand for goods and services. Ranchers, farmers, and skilled workers supported the Fort and the surrounding settlers. You would think there was plenty to go around, but Murphy (or more so, Dolan) was’t going to let an Englishman cut into his business, especially when he partnered with cattle legend John Chisolm to open Lincoln’s first bank. Dolan’s biggest mistake was not realizing the impact killing Tunstall would have on his friend, Billy the Kid! Battles were fought and people were killed including Sherriff Brady, who was loyal to Dolan. Perhaps the ultimate sacrifice was made by Alex McSween who never wielded a gun, but chose the law and his words as a weapon. He died during the final battle and his home was burned to the ground. This may have been the end of the war for some, but not for the “Kid”.
Billy’s Great Escape! The law finally caught up with the “Kid” and had him in jail awaiting his fate. Unfortunate for deputies Bell and Ollinger, Billy had other plans. After acquiring a pistol and killing Bell, he proceeded to the window with Ollinger’s own double-barrel shotgun where he exclaimed, “Hello Bob” and emptied both barrels into his chest. What happened next has been subject of much debate to this very day. The only thing we do know is that Billy the Kid is dead, but we don’t know how or when. Maybe the Shaman can tell us.
BOOM! The first atomic bomb is exploded near the western edge of the county at a place called Trinity Site. A couple of years later, a UFO supposedly crashes near Corona. Coincidence?
A two-year old horse named Galobar wins the first All American Futurity. Since that time, the race has become a spectacular event bringing visitors from all over the world to witness America’s Fastest Athletes. Last year’s purse was a staggering $2,600,000.
1960’s – 1990’s A.D.
Playground of the Southwest! Lincoln County and all its communities are impacted by the tourism which is the leading economic driver. People from all over visit our area, especially from Texas, California, and Mexico. We all love the natural beauty which surrounds us and it also helps to have skiing, horse racing, the Spencer Theater, Casinos, and great events!
On a warm, August afternoon the Shaman returned to the mesa overlooking the splendid country known as “Rainmakers” and water flowed from his Olla!