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Death site of one of Billy the Kid's shooting victims.
Death site of one of Billy the Kid's shooting victims.

Billy the Kid Jailbreak: Bullet Hole, Death Plaques

Field review by the editors.

Lincoln, New Mexico

Billy the Kid was awaiting execution for murder on April 28, 1881, when he killed his two guards, U.S. Marshall Robert Ollinger and deputy J.W. Bell, and escaped. It happened in the old courthouse in Lincoln, New Mexico. The road outside the courthouse, the same one you drive to get to it, was called "the most dangerous street in America" by no less an authority than President Rutherford B. Hayes. A modern historical marker in Lincoln describes the town in 1881 as "turbulent."

Old Lincoln County Courthouse.

The courthouse is now a museum, with displays including the wooden tombstone of Billy the Kid's mom, one of Billy's handwritten letters (he had nice penmanship), and a hole in a wall supposedly made by a bullet from Billy's gun, sealed behind plexiglass. After being shot, deputy Bell staggered outside and collapsed; Ollinger was killed trying to enter the building. Engraved marble slabs on the ground mark the death spots of Ollinger (just east of the courthouse) and Bell (just southwest of the courthouse).

On the first weekend in August, Lincoln hosts "The Last Escape of Billy the Kid," a pageant recreating the murders. Bell and Ollinger's deaths brought national notoriety to Billy the Kid, put a bounty on his head, and got him killed (supposedly) three months later by Sheriff Pat Garrett.

Also see: Billy the Kid: Baddest Punk in the West

Billy the Kid Jailbreak: Bullet Hole, Death Plaques

Old Lincoln County Courthouse

US Hwy 380, Lincoln, NM
Old Lincoln County Courthouse. West edge of town (it's a tiny town) on the south side of US-380. It's a long-sided dun-colored two-story building next to the road.
Daily 8:30-4:30 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $7.
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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