Inside the Capitol

Friday, January 07, 2005

1-12Billy the Kid Trail Ride

SANTA FE – Do you know it is still possible to retrace Billy the Kid’s last trail ride from Lincoln to Fort Sumner?
There are many more fences now than there were in Billy’s day, but once a year, ranchers along that trail, not only to open their gates, but they feed, entertain and put riders up for the night.
The 125-mile ride, lasting seven days, begins on April 28, the day Billy escaped from the Lincoln County jail in 1881 and headed for Fort Sumner, where he had many friends. Along the way, friendly ranchers took good care of him, as they now do for the trail riders.
This will be the fourth year for the trail ride. Nineteen riders participated in the entire ride last year, with day riders pushing the total up to 25 or so.
The adventure is coordinated by New Mexico State University’s Rural Economic Development Through Tourism project, which is a part of the Cooperative Extension Service of the NMSU Department of Agriculture. Rex Buchman, the extension agent in Fort Sumner, is the ramrod of the operation.
The journey begins at the Wortley Hotel with an evening meal of pot roast and mashed potatoes, the meal Deputy Bob Olinger was eating when he heard shots from the courthouse across the street and ran to see what was happening.
This time, everyone gets to finish their meal before going outside to witness a reenactment of Billy’s famous escape by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Posse. Participants also can take a guided tour of Lincoln, led by Wortley hotel owner Tim Hagaman, who along with Buchman hatched the idea of an annual trail ride in 2002 and scouted the trail.
This year’s ride will be held April 27 to May 5, 2005. It begins with check-in at the Pageant Grounds and a night at the Wortley across the street. Then on April 28th, the 124th anniversary of Billy’s escape, riders will head up over Capitan Gap for a week of trekking through mountains, high desert grasslands and across the Pecos River.
Riders will stay at ranch camps, where they will learn the history of Billy the Kid, share stories around campfires under starry skies and build memories to last a lifetime.
The ride is billed as a “Wild at Heart” sort of adventure. Participants are warned that there are elements of endurance on the ride. But there will always be a “cowboy taxi service” available to transport gear from camp to camp and to rescue tired travelers – man or beast.
Last year, only seven of the core 19 riders to make the entire ride on horseback. One of those seven was Ollie Reed, a reporter for the Albuquerque Tribune, who wrote about his adventure.
REDTT, the sponsor of trail ride was established in 1992 by a group headed by former U.S. Rep Joe Skeen. Its purpose is to boost rural tourism development. Three of the participating counties are Lincoln, Chaves and DeBaca, through which Billy’s last trail ride wanders. Another sponsor, the Billy the Kid Outlaw Gang also has taken an interest in promoting rural tourism throughout Billy the Kid Country.
The price for the entire package is $1250, which includes food, lodging and entertainment. If you just want to join in for a day or so, the cost is $150 per day, plus a $50 one-time fee. The trail ride coordinator is Wally Roberts, 10600 Monarch, Hobbs, NM 88242. Or check the website:
A few months later, the Outlaw Gang hosts a campout north of Ruidoso at the approximate date of Billy’s death on July 14, 1881. This year’s campout will be held July 21-25 at the Cedar Creek Campground, campsite #2, in Ruidoso. The campout features food, games, speakers, entertainment, contests and lots of storytelling. The cost is $10 for each vehicle.
We’ll tell you more about the campout once the trail ride is over.


Post a Comment

<< Home