It was a pleasant 177 mile drive from Rio Rancho to the Sumner Lake State Park a little North of Fort Sumner, NM. It was mostly on I-40 but we are off it now and don't plan much more Interstate driving on this trip. The side roads are much more scenic and enjoyable when you are able to use them. Fort Sumner has a three different, small campgrounds and we are in the Pecos Campground which overlooks the lake. We have 30 amps and water, limited Verizon and a clear shot to the satellite. The sites also have adobe ramadas which are very nice, both keeping the sun and wind off of you. We aslo have our own resident herd of deer and flock of wild turkeys. We bought a 50 pound bag of deer corn and when Doris was feeding the deer Tuesday morning, she counted 14 of them, including three bucks. They are very small and scrawny.
Monday we went in to see Fort Sumner, the fort, and Fort Sumner, the town. The area where the fort stood is now the Fort Sumner State Historical Site
. The fort was established in 1861 to oversee the operation of the Bosque Redondo Reservation, a forty square mile piece of desert along the Pecos River where 9,000 Navajo and 450 Mescalero Apaches were interred. A third of those died while being kept on the reservation. This was after a great many had also died on the Long Walk
from their homeland in Arizona after Kit Carson rounded them up in 1864. This was another of the great injustices our Native Americans had to endure. On June 1, 1868, a treaty was signed that allowed the Navajo to return to their homeland. It was signed by Gen. William T. Sherman, yep, the same William Sherman of Sherman's March to the Sea and the burning of Atlanta a few years earlier. The fort was then disestablished and the land eventually held by Lucien Maxwell
who rebuilt the officer's quarters into a 20 room house where he died on July 25, 1875. Maxwell was a huge land baron, owning over 1,700,000 acres. It was in this house, where Maxwell's son lived, that Sheriff Pat Garrett shot and killed William Bonney
, otherwise known as Billy the Kid, on July 21, 1881. Several months earlier Bonnie had escaped from the Fort Sumner jail after being sentenced to death for several killings. A lot of history occurred in this remote little place in New Mexico over a 20 year period.
We then came back into Fort Sumner, the town, and saw the Billy the Kid Museum. This is probably one of the best museums we have visited. It doesn't look like much but in addition to the great information on Billy the Kid and his short life, it contained a treasure trove of 19th century items. Just about anything you can think of is contained there.
Tomorrow we head for Canyon, TX and the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. We will be back in the Central Time Zone for the first time in months.