DescriptionThe agricultural potential of the Pecos River bottomlands surrounding this quiet farming and ranching center so impressed Maj. James Carleton that in 1852 he recommended the site for an Army post. A decade later, as brigadier general, he realized his dream. He established Fort Sumner and made it the core of a permanent reservation for the Navajos and Apaches, whose resettlement was being supervised by Col. Kit Carson.
In 1864 Carson forced more than 8,000 Navajos to make the 300-mile Long Walk from Fort Defiance, Ariz., to the 1,024,000-acre reservation at Fort Sumner. The fort was abandoned in 1868, and the Navajos returned to their tribal lands.
After being sentenced to death in Lincoln, the notorious Billy the Kid fatally shot his guards and fled the town's courthouse on Apr. 28, 1881. Nearly 3 months after the escape, a pistol-packing sheriff named Pat Garrett tracked down and killed the outlaw in Fort Sumner. Billy the Kid's grave, flanked by those of cronies Tom O'Folliard and Charlie Bowdre, sticks out like a sore thumb in Old Fort Sumner Cemetery, 3.5 miles south off Billy the Kid Road; all three tombs are surrounded by a big steel cage built after the Kid's footstone was stolen and recovered twice.
Visitor InfoFort Sumner Chamber of Commerce 707 N. Fourth St. FORT SUMNER, NM 88119. Phone:(575)355-7705
Things to SeeFort Sumner State Monument