|Our trip to Fort Sumner was bittersweet.
The trip to the Bosque Redondo was quite sobering.
Over the coarse of two years the US military captured an estimated 10,000 Navajos and forced them to walk 450 miles from their homeland at Four Corners, NM, to the Bosque Redondo Reservation at Fort Sumner. A tragedy know as the "Long Walk". Only 8600 arrived! Mescalero Apaches were also taken prisoner, and by 1864 the reservation had over 9000 occupants. Many died of exposure, diet, and starvation. In 1868 a treaty was signed and the Navajos were allow to go home. For more info click: http://www.bosqueredondomemorial.com/history.htm
As I walked through the Memorial I felt quite humble, and walking outside you come upon a Travel Shrine where rocks were brought from the land of the Navajo Nation in 1971 to commemorate those who had been exiled and died at the Bosque Redondo. At the shrine, a Navajo soldier, returning from Iraq, had come to pray, and hung his Purple Heart on the stick in the middle of the Shrine.
In 1870 the old Fort Sumner buildings were sold to Lucien B. Maxwell, the former owner of the largest land grant in U.S. History. After paying some $5,000 for portions of the surrounding land and its buildings, Maxwell relocated his family from northeast New Mexico and refurbished the buildings into proper housing.
Lucien Maxwell soon turned over his affairs to his son, Peter and passed away a few years later. When Billy the Kid arrived on the scene, Peter Maxwell and Billy became friends. On July 14, 1881, Sheriff Pat Garrett found Billy the Kid in a bedroom of the Maxwell home, ending the life of the teenage outlaw.
On the lighter side. I was told of an old bunker across on the other side of Lake Sumner that was a "Bat Cave". We went over there at dusk and waited, and waited, and waited!! Finally once it got dark, here they came, and they kept coming. It was great!!