Headed north from Cloudcroft through the Mescalero Apache Reservation to the northern side of the Lincpln National Forest. We are staying at Along the River RV Park. We are camped alongside the Rio Bonito. Took a scenic drive along the Billy the Kid Scenic Byway from Alto to Capitan, home of Smokey Bear. It was his 68th birthday and the town was celebrating even though the real bear died somed time ago. Still, the town has a park and museum dedicated to the icon. From there we drove to the Historic Fort Stanton, established in 1855 and named for Captain Henry Stanton who was killed in battle by the Apache. In 1861 the Union abandoned the fort to Confederates. In 1862 Kit Carson and the Union troops re-occupied the fort while campaining against the Mescalero Apache. After the Apache surrendered they spent the next 3 years captive at the fort. 1865, the Apache returned to their homeland and the Buffalo Soldiers protected the community. 1869 Lincoln Coounty was formed. 1880's Lew Wallace worked on his book "Ben Hur" from the fort while the soldiers conquered Victorio and Geronimo. 1887 Black Jack Pershing began to serve one of two tours at Fort Stanton. 1896 Fort is decommisioned. 1899 Became a military hospital for treating tuberculosis. 1939 Internment camp prior to WWII. 410 German seamen were quartered here till after the war. 1953 Santiarium, 1996 corrections facility. 1997 the Friends of Fort Stanton started the process of making this well preserved piece of history a State Monument and museum.
Just a short drive away is Lincoln State Monument, a town with a history of corruption and bands of outlaws. The place is famous because of the Lincoln County War and Billy the kid. Of all the killing, thefts and anarchy only one man was ever tried and convicted, William H. Bonney, aka Billy the kid who escaped before they could hang him. President Rutherford B. Hayes once called the single road through Lincoln "the most dangerous street in America". Today it is a picture of the past, a National Historic Monument that includes 16 historic adobe and stone buildings, six of which are museums.
From there to fertile valleys of Hondo and Ruidoso downs famous for the horse track and through the village of Ruidoso. So quant and charming. Love it!