Southwestern Wrap, Part One. New Mexico and Arizona

Posted on February 3, 2015


As we round up our 380 horses, climb into the saddle and roll out across the desert Southwest toward the damp, lush greenery of Lower Alabama, we are full of memories of great times in New Mexico and Arizona.

Fort Sumner, New Mexico

Fort Sumner is still a place of warring factions – not the Native Americans and the settlers, but two museums wrangling for visitors, both using the public’s fascination with Billy the Kid as a hook for tourists.

DSCN1118The first, right in downtown Fort Sumner, boasts a replica of Billy the Kid’s grave, and the life-long collections of Ed and Jewel Sweet, including some items relating to The Kid, and lots of items relating to local history.

The second, down the road apiece, is the Old Fort Sumner Museum and the real-but-not-real grave of Billy and a couple of his buddies.

Real, because Billy is buried somewhere in this graveyard inside the wall ruins of the old fort, and not real because no one knows for sure WHERE in the cemetery he’s buried.DSCN1124 His original wood tombstone rotted away long ago, so at some point they just picked an open spot. Billy and the boys are behind bars even in death – people kept stealing the tombstones until they finally fenced ’em in.

images (1)The museum contains LOTS of documents, letters and whatnot about Billy, as well as The Kid’s life story told in 14 painted works by noted Artist Howard Suttle.

But it was a non-Billy photo and a bit of text about an early church built out of black powder cans that really took my fancy.

This area may have been short of trees for lumber, but there was always an ample supply of powder for guns and blowing up stuff DSCN1127on the Western frontier.DSCN1128






Willcox, Arizona

This old cowboy town hangs on partly because of the Willcox Livestock Auction and the Rex Allen Museum and Cowboy Hall of Fame.

The Willcox Livestock Auction was started 65 years ago and is now the oldest running auction in Arizona. There are still plenty of cows in Arizona and the western part of New Mexico – during one auction this pdownload (3)ast December over 1,300 head were sold.

Cowboys are alive and well here.

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The Rex Allen Museum honors the town’s singing son, who was a Western music recording artist from 1948 through the 1970’s and a popular movie star from 1950 to 1954.

Over his long career, Rex Allen wrote and recorded many songs, a number of which were featured in his own films.

Local devotees of Rex Allen's Music perform at the Museum most mornings.

Local devotees of Rex Allen’s Music perform at the Museum most mornings.

Late in coming to the movie industry, his film career was relatively short as the popularity of westerns faded by the mid-1950s. Rex has the distinction of making the last singing Western in 1954. All told, he starred in 19 Western movies and was a top box office draw during his time.images (2)

The Cowboy Hall of Fame recognizes the contributions to both the cattle industry and the preservation of the Western way of life made by local and area cowboys and ranchers – including several women.

Yep, the cowboys in THIS part of the country are real!