New Mexico to preserve historic sites from Billy the Kid era

Border Report

Billy the Kid merchandise is for sale at a tourist store in Lincoln, New Mexico on October 21, 2010. (MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

LINCOLN, N.M. (AP) — A major preservation project is underway in an area of southern New Mexico that was once the stomping grounds of Billy the Kid and Sheriff Pat Garrett.

Officials with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs announced Thursday that the $395,000 project involves the Lincoln Historic Site, which is home to some of the most significant Territorial Period structures in the state. Many of the structures are under the protection of New Mexico Historic Sites.

One of the six buildings included in the project is the Lincoln County Courthouse, best known as the location of Billy the Kid’s final escape in April 1881.

Another is the John Tunstall Store, which was constructed in 1877 and stood at the center of the Lincoln County War. Adobe specialists are working to stabilize the building’s foundation to ensure that visitors can safely walk in the footsteps of Tunstall and the Regulators who were committed to avenging his death.

Work also is underway at the Montaño Store, San Juan Mission Church, Watson House and Brent House.

Tim Roberts, deputy director of facilities and interpretation for New Mexico Historic Sites, said the community of Lincoln is one of the most well-preserved frontier towns in the western United States and provides a tangible link between New Mexico’s unique history and those who visit the site today.

This is an undated photo of a painting of “Billy the Kid,” western outlaw of the late 19th century also known as William Bonney. (AP Photo)

“This critical preservation work will guarantee these one-of-a-kind treasures survive to help educate future generations about New Mexico’s past and sustain the community of Lincoln’s historic integrity,” he said.

Officials said the work is being done through consultation with the New Mexico State Historic Preservation Office and preservation specialists from Crocker Architectural Conservation.

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