Rocky Mountain Profiles - Fort Sumner NM

Copyright © 2001 - 2018  All Photos, text, materials on this site are copyrighted to Rocky Mountain Profiles for the exclusive use of Rocky Mountain Profiles and  Michael J. Sinnwell.  

Home About Us Contact Us Ghost town Books Links of interest
Ghost Towns by State Site Search Tales from the Past Guest Book

Fort Sumner NM

July 2018


I guess I was not prepared as I expected to see much more than what was here. This is home to the burial site of the famed outlaw of the American West, Billy the Kid, who was shot and killed here in 1881.

Yep it is true – his headstone was stolen not once but twice but it got returned both times. Read the story in the photo. Billy the Kid is buried in the old military cemetery in Fort Sumner, as is Lucien Maxwell.

The site got its name from New Mexico Territory military governor Edwin Vose Sumner, this was a military fort from 1863 to 1868. Its mission was the internment of nearby Navajo and Mescalero Apache populations. The fort was closed in 1868 and in 1870 sold to Lucien Maxwell, a prominent New Mexico landowner. In the late 1870s Maxwell's son Pete befriended legendary outlaw Billy the Kid, and it was in his house that Pat Garrett killed Billy the Kid.

A side benefits was the development of the Goodnight-Loving trail. This occurred when Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving decided they could profit from selling beef to the US government. Someone had to help to feed all Native Americans being held at the fort in 1866. That trail runs through Colorado on its way North.