Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County Wars

Billy the Kid and the Lincoln County Wars

The story of the Lincoln County Wars and Billy the Kid has all the elements that made the West wild. The story starts with a group of ex-army men from the bloody Civil War who were running the town with monopolistic zeal. The prize was not only the profitable main store, but also lucrative government cattle contracts. 


For all the murders and countless other offenses committed during the Lincoln County War on both sides, Billy the Kid was the only person ever charged with breaking the law – an incredibly unjust thing, especially considering he was just one of the six gunmen in the shooting for which he was charged. This made him a fugitive, and he became the leader of a small gang of rustlers that terrorized the county until he was caught in December of 1880. Billy was tried and sentenced to hang. 

Well known throughout New Mexico on the afternoon of April 28, 1881, he catapulted himself into international legend when he escaped from jail. During the jailbreak, he killed a guard who had taunted him constantly about the pains of death by hanging and had dared Billy to try to break out so he could shoot him. As a testament to how well liked he was in Lincoln, he stayed around for an hour making a speech to the locals and then went around shaking hands. He left the town singing on a borrowed horse that he actually returned as he promised he would. 

The official record states that 76 days after his escape, Billy the Kid was shot through the heart in a darkened room by lawman Pat Garrett. Life expectancy in the west, due to this lawlessness, was short. Many of the men who were killed in the Lincoln County War had not yet turned 20. There are many people in Lincoln County who knew Billy the kid and believed he escaped to Texas. 

Billy’s exact age is not known. It is thought he was about 21 when he was killed. Short, violent lives were common in the Wild West, but at least two of Billy’s gang lived into their late 80s or early 90s. The last died in 1947, after the first nuclear explosions in New Mexico ushered in the nuclear age. 

Experience the legend for yourself with the TWIN CANYON RANCH

Sprawling across two counties, Twin Canyon Ranch’s 30,000 acres (MOL) encompass a variety of terrain from flat plains to deep canyons and plateaus. 

Known for being the home to some of the region’s largest trophy deer, and Barbary sheep, this big country ranch has a little bit of everything. Situated between the progressive city of Roswell, NM, and the mountain resort town of Ruidoso, NM, the ranch and region offer a wide range of attractive uses.