When I saw the sign saying Lincoln Monument 10 miles ahead as we headed towards Valley of Fire, I had no idea what it was going to be......obviously not Abraham Lincoln. We drove through Lincoln with plans to come back another day. Good thing too as you will want to allow several hours at least to check out this town. Have you ever heard of the Lincoln County War? You will surely know about it if you watch old western movies. The town of Lincoln and Lincoln County are the stomping grounds of Billy the Kid (1859-1881) who was born Henry McCarty and also known as Henry Antrim and William H. Bonney. But there are lots of other characters that are more important.
We started our tour at the Visitor's Center which is also a museum. You will get tickets here that allow you into several other important buildings. This museum gives the history of the area in general. Indians were here long before.
They have some very nice exhibits showing items used by the native inhabitants.
There is also information about Fort Stanton which played an important part before and after the civil war.
Then you move on to the big story about the Lincoln County War. At one time, Lincoln County was the largest county in the U.S. comprising about 1/4 of New Mexico. It is now broken into a number of counties. Lincoln County was a community of farmers, ranchers, cowboys, and merchants who were accustomed to governing themselves with little influence from the outside world. In 1873, L.G. Murphy established his store in Lincoln. There were few banks in the area so a single store like Murphy's assumed the roles of lender, creditor, retailer, and wholesaler. They bought beef and other commodities from ranchers and farmers and then sold to the army forts and Indian reservations. They also brought in goods from the east and sold to the locals. There was a lot of bartering instead of cash exchange. Merchants often ended up with large cattle herds and ranches. The store became Murphy-Dolan and was known as "The House" controlling the entire economy of the region.
Along came John H. Tunstall, an Englishman who opened a store and a bank and threatened the control held by Murphey-Dolan.
This is what started the war for control.
The Montano Store was one of the first stores and was neutral during the war.
There is a real nice coffee shop in Lincoln when you need a break from all the history.
This is an early church still in use.
Next up down the road is the old Dolan Home.
The Old Dolan House is now a Bed and Breakfast and also the only place in town to have lunch. It was very interesting and lunch was great. When you walk in, there is a bedroom on the left. If you rent the room, you have the run of the house after it closes as 3:30PM. The dining room has three large dining table like you would have in a home. It is all set up like a home otherwise.
The next stop was a visit to the Tunstall-McSween Store.
This is the outside of the building with a post office on the right.
The inside is set up like the store would have been.
Tunstall and his wife lived in two rooms off the store. You can see where the divider wall originally was. The hole in the floor would have been covered by the bed and was used to hide and escape if necessary.
This is the Torreon. It was originally taller with another story but it is still hard to imagine getting a lot of people and their cattle in it.
When the early Hispanic settlers arrived in the area, they usually built a jacal to live in until they were settled and more prosperous.
At the far end of town was the Murphy-Dolan Store.
The sheriff's office was upstairs. He was controlled by Dolan.
Billy the Kid was held here but he escaped.
There are wildflowers blooming across the high desert.
We really enjoyed our tour of Lincoln.