Sign on the way to grave.

Billy the Kid's Grave

Field review by the editors.

Fort Sumner, New Mexico

Several miles southeast of Fort Sumner we see a billboard announcing, "Old Fort Sumner Museum and Real Grave of Billy The Kid." Real Grave is italicized, to distinguish it from the Replica Grave at the Billy The Kid Museum in town.

The real grave is in a real graveyard behind the Old Fort Sumner Museum (which closed in 2017, after our visit). This museum had The Kid's letters to Governor Lew Wallace, press photos from Young Guns I and II, the coroner's report in both English and Spanish, and The Kid's life story told in 14 painted works by "Noted Artist Howard Suttle."

Sign for Billy the Kid's Real Grave.

We quickly make it back to the Old Fort Sumner graveyard and the authentic gravesite. First, biting flies block our path. Then a steel cage does.

Why the big cage, akin to something you'd see in a WWF smackdown? It turns out that the real headstone had been stolen three times, the first time back in 1950. It stayed missing for 26 years, before it was found in Granbury, Texas, a town once filled with aging outlaws whose deaths were faked. Then it got swiped in 1981, recovered a week later in Huntington Beach, California, and vamoosed again more recently.

Real Billy the Kid grave.
Real Billy the Kid grave.

Coins (almost all quarters when we visited, an authentic tribute) are scattered on the grave. The Kid is under reinforced concrete, his footstone restrained by its own iron shackles.

Ironically, after all of this, the exact location of The Kid's grave in the graveyard isn't known. A flood washed away the wooden tombstones not long after Billy's death, and the current grave site is just a guess.

Also see: Billy the Kid Museum and Replica Grave

Billy the Kid's Grave

Old Fort Sumner Cemetery

Billy the Kid Drive, Fort Sumner, NM
Billy's real grave is three miles east of town on US Hwy 60/84, then south three miles on Billy the Kid Drive. On the right, in Old Fort Sumner Cemetery.
RA Rates:
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Billy the Kid's Replica Grave and MuseumBilly the Kid's Replica Grave and Museum, Fort Sumner, NM - 5 mi.
One Man's Privately-Built Rest AreaOne Man's Privately-Built Rest Area, Lake Sumner, NM - 15 mi.
Cowboy Rukus: Giant Cowboy CutoutsCowboy Rukus: Giant Cowboy Cutouts, Vaughn, NM - 45 mi.
In the region:
The Blue Hole, Santa Rosa, NM - 46 mi.

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September 18, 2020

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