The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

'Old West' lives in Fort Sumner


November 4, 2005

Compiled by Mike Jimenez

For a look into the “Wild West,” why not try a short day trip to Fort Sumner’s “Billy the Kid Museum.” About an hour’s drive from Portales lies the remains of one of the West’s most feared outlaws, where visitors can relive the days of gunslingers, wanted men, and lawmen who ruled the West with an iron fist and a loaded pistol.

The Billy the Kid museum has one of the largest collections of the Western past, including the Kid’s rifle, chaps and spurs. Also at the museum are items such as a horse-drawn hearse and the homestead cabin exhibit.

There is a gift store for souvenirs of the trip, and a trip to the museum would be incomplete without a visit to the tombstone of the Kid that has been stolen three times since the 1940s. It has since been enclosed in a metal cage in an effort to prevent further thefts.

Where is it:

The Billy the Kid museum is located in Fort Sumner which is approximately 70 miles from Portales on U.S. 84. Driving time should be about an hour and 15 minutes. The museum is located on the left as you enter Fort Sumner.

What is it:

Fort Sumner was an Army fort built in the 1860s. At the time of Billy the Kid, it was a Mexican settlement where the kid would go when in need of a rest from the weary work of hired gun and rustler, according to museum information.

The Kid is best known for his part in the Lincoln County wars and as an outlaw. There are more than seven million references on the Internet that mention Billy the Kid.

The Billy the Kid museum in Fort Sumner is home to more than 60,000 relics of the historic past including various items that belonged to the Kid. There are also antique vehicles, a horse-drawn hearse, and even locks of the Kid’s hair. A gift shop is available where anyone can purchase a T-shirt with the Kid on the front, and his tombstone on the back. There are also Billy the Kid wanted posters available in the gift store.


8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday


Adults $4, seniors $3.50, children $2,


1-800-556-7049 or online at

— Compiled by Mike Jimenez


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