ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Tourist’s Guide to ‘The Real Grave of Billy The Kid’

Updated on April 3, 2016

Billy the Kid

A Real Tourist’s Eyeview

This hub is designed to give you a real tourist’s eye view of the Billy the Kid tourist attraction.

So often the stuff written about these places are written either by travel writers or tourist information places who either are paid for their opinions or want to encourage you to go so that they can part you from your money.

I have no axe to grind, the places I write about are places that I have personally visited as an ordinary tourist and so I have nothing to gain or lose by what I write.

I write therefore only to share my own personal experiences of these places and I share to the best of my remembrance and ability.

I hope that you will enjoy your trip as you come along with me to visit the real authentic gravesite of the infamous outlaw known as Billy the Kid.

How did we come to visit this place?

How did we come to visit this place?

Well as I remember it was my husbands idea to visit Billy the Kid´s grave he had noticed that it was just off our planned route and he said that it would only take a small detour to make it a part of our sites we want to see list.

Our holidays to the USA are usually fly-drive with only the first night and the last night’s motel booked. We have a vague idea of where we want to go but that often changes as we travelled as serendipity often brings us face to face with events or places that we hadn’t planned for.

Such was the real authentic grave site of Billy the kid. As my hubby was doing most of the driving and it was taking us into territory that none of us had seen before it seemed a good idea.

My husband and I are part of a generation that grew up with the obligatory Saturday afternoon cinema visit which frequently showed Cowboy films, so we of course grew up with the Hollywood version of the wild west.

Names such as Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Buffalo Bill and many more were just as familiar to us as were the names of our friends.

How Long is this Little Detour Going to Take?

Armed with the location marked on our map and the assurances of the lady at the tourist information place that this was indeed the authentic resting place of Billy the Kid we set out.

Excited at the thought of seeing the actual grave of a name that was famous throughout the world, at least the part of the world that we grew up in, we began our journey.

Following the directions on the map we left the highway and headed towards Fort Sumner, this by the way was way back in 1999, and so some of what we experienced has no doubt change since then, but hopefully the grave site is still the authentic grave site.

The further we travelled from the highway the more rural the roads became.

What looked so close on the map was now beginning to have us wondering just how long this little detour was in fact going to take us.

Being tourists we were used to travelling on the long straight highways of the USA highways that were built for getting you to your destination by the shortest route in the quickest time, the rural roads were something new to us.

An Historic Bridge

On route to Fort Sumner we passed under a very nondescript road bridge that had a plaque which stated ´An Historic Bridge built 1937´ I can´t remember seeing why it was historic, it looked like a very ordinary concrete bridge with nothing at all outstanding about it it made us smile to think such an ordinary nondescript structure could attain the designation historic.

We Finally Arrive

After travelling what seemed to us at the time a long way off the beaten track we finally arrived at our destination and there it was the Old Fort Sumner Museum, with the words ‘Authentic grave site of Billy the Kid’ emblazoned in gold letters directly under the name of the museum.

It is a single story building and houses mostly as you would expect memorabilia connected to Billy the Kid it is not a large collection and its saving grace is the authentic grave site of the Kid himself which is located out back of the museum.

It was here that we met our Portaloo

One of the most memorable facts that I remember about this museum was that it had no indoor restrooms for visitors.

When I asked where the rest room was I was directed outside to a field next to the building where right in the middle of this field stood a Portaloo which had seen better days.

We openned the door of this Portaloo and quickly decided that we could wait until we could find a place with indoor plumbing and none of the wildlife that this Portaloo had.

This photo is not a photograph of the real authentic Billy the Kid´s Portaloo, I didn´t have the foresight to take a photograph of that loo so this is just a photograph of one I found on the Internet so that you knew what sort I was talking about.

The Grave of Billy the Kid

This grave site is only about three quarters of a mile from the place where the Lincoln County Sheriff of that time, a lawman called Pat Garrett, shot and killed Billy the Kid.

The first thing to strike you when you see the grave is that it is behind bars.

The Tombstone was stolen Three Times

It seems that in the past the real grave´s headstone has been stolen on three separate occasions but I can only find mention of of two of theses thefts, the the first time it was taken was in 1950 and it remained missing for 26 years before it was found and returned.

The second time that it was stolen was in 1981 but this time it was recovered much quicker it only took a couple of weeks to recover the headstone, the third time is supposed to have taken place more recently but when that was I have been unable to find out.

The Authentic Grave Site of Billy the Kid

Old Fort Days

In June each year Fort Sumner hold an Old Fort Days celebration this year it is the Old Fort Days Centennial Celebration, and starts June 6th through June 9th.

The Tombstone Race

One of the events is the Tombstone Race the inspiration for which came from how the thieves managed to achieve the theft of Billy the Kid’s gravestone.

Fort Sumner boasts that it holds the World’s Richest Billy the Kid Tombstone race for which you have to pay an entry fee of $20. The winner of this race receives a cash prize of about $2500, though there is more than one division and there is over $4000 available for prize money.

In this race contestants run around a course with 2 obstacles similar to those encountered by the thieves carrying an eighty pound stone replica of the grave stone, this years race will take place on Saturday 9th of June and I think that 2012 is the thirty second anniversary of this annual event.

The Tombstone Race in Fort Sumner

A Good Time To Visit

If you are going to visit Fort Sumner it sounds like this might be the ideal time of year that you should schedule your visit for, the three day 'Old Fort Day’s' event is packed full of all sorts of typical American type family entertainment ranging from Tug of War to Rodeo. As for other times there appears little else to see in Fort Sumner otherwise.

Did we enjoy our visit?

Did we enjoy our visit? Well it was certainly memorable and I am glad that we saw the real and authentic grave of the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid, and we got to travel some of the less travelled roads of America, but would I make the trip again? Only if it was during something like the Old Fort Days event when there are other things going on.

Better than the real thing?

I found this video on YouTube of the Spencers and their team visiting the grave of Billy the Kid, and I think watching their video is the next best thing to visiting Fort Sumner in person, no wait a minute thinking about the flies, the Portaloo and the long hot drive, maybe this is better than the real thing, see what you think.

The Spencers and their team visit Billy the Kid's grave

Seriously though I wouldn´t have missed this for the world, it was well worth the effort to get there and I am glad to be able to say that I have seen the real grave of Billy the Kid.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Hi GetitScene We loved Tombstone too, we have visited there more than once and enjoyed each visit.

      You know what they say about the young that youth is wasted on them lol...

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment :D

    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Thank you Thomas for your kind words I just wish that I had your wit and humour then I am sure that I could have made even this boring place a little more interesting, not to mention funny :D

      I like our kind of holidays we never know where we are going to end up except for the first and last day and so many of our favourite places were happened on en route to somewhere else lol...

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image


      5 years ago from Reno, Nevada


      I love your adventurous spirit! The open ended nature of your trips is the way to find the hidden jewels of history and culture that most folks miss as they rush from point A to point B on the interstate. Obviously...had you used the probably would have found additional jewels so clearly discretion IS the better part of valor I

      As for Fort Sumner being pretty boring with the exception of "Old Fort's Days", I think that explains why (for fun) people steal old headstones.

      Very interesting hub my friend!


    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Hi Gregory, Thank you so much for your kind comments like you we enjoy exploring off the interstate highways.

    • Gregory Hasman 66 profile image

      Gregory Hasman 

      6 years ago from Denton TX

      I like your approach to the grave. I visited the grave in June on my way to Gallup. I enjoyed the drive as I like scenic , anything non-interstate, roads. Good imput and descriptions.

    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Hi epigramman, Wow, what a nice kind man you are, your comment has really made my day.

    • epigramman profile image


      7 years ago

      ...we all love a mystery don't we - but one thing that is NOT a mystery - your hubs - they're great - especially this one - and one of my favorites ANYWHERE on Hubpages!

    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Sunny Spain

      HI epigramman, Thanks for the interesting information.

      I think this theory would explain the rather glassy stare that Billy the Kid has in this photo. There is something not quite right about this photo which is hard to put your finger on and this theory would seem to be a reasonable explanation.

    • epigramman profile image


      7 years ago

      .....I so much love this hub and your beautiful style of putting it all together into an informative and entertaining travelogue - I say Bravo - and the next time you go somewhere - please take me along with you!

      p.s. - apparently the picture, as you probably know, up above of Billy the Kid is only one of two in existence - now the point I'm making here - this particular photo, I read somewhere, is his actual death picture and that is him standing upright (well propped up as they say) - what do you think of this theory?

    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Hi Barbara, nice to see your smiling face it always cheers me up and brightens my day to see your profile photo on my comments. I am glad that I have saved you some valuable time Lol....

    • RNMSN profile image

      Barbara Bethard 

      7 years ago from Tucson, Az

      well thats one part of the wild west I and hubby will NOT be visiting! lol love to you and I loved this most enjoyable article Maggie! barbara b

    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Sunny Spain

      I suppose now that we have the DNA know how maybe this question can be settled once and for all. I hope it proves to be the real grave or these people will most likely lose their way of making a living. Thanks so much for your comments

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      This was very interesting. I would love to see it only because I am a history buff and have been reading lately all the speculation that the body was not really that of Billy the Kid. No one knows for sure yet, but reading about all the theories is entertaining.

    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Hi ralwus now you have got me intrigued I shall be wondering all night now what you call a portaloo in your neck of the woods? Lol We enjoy exploring your great country, there are so many interesting places to see, so many familiar place names that I want to see first hand.

      I think that I must have watched far too many American TV shows and seen too many American films in the past for my own good. No sure when we will get back to America but with my daughter living there I hope that it won’t be too long.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I am so glad you got to go there. Ahh yes, I remember watching all the cowboy shows and movies too. It sticks with you well, those days. I don't blame you for not using the portaloo. Is that what you people call it? LOL I'll refrain from telling you what we call it. When will you next visit here take place, hmmmm?

    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Hi Ann, When I look at the photograph of the real Billy the Kid those times don't seem to look anywhere near as romantic and attractive as they did when I was a kid watching it all play out on the silver screen of our local cinema, if I thought the Portaloo was gross I don´t know what I would have thought of the plumbing back then. lol

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      What a wonderful experience, maggs! I never think about Billy the Kid's grave but now thanks to your wonderful presentation I have a feeling he will be on my mind a little bit more! LOL

    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Cowboy and Cowgirl outfits were always a popular Christmas present back in the late forties early fifties and the Saturday cinema was always a noisy interactive thing with kids all playing along with their heros on screen, happy days. Glad you enjoyed the hub, thanks for your kind comments they are always a blessing. love maggs

    • Mystique1957 profile image


      8 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

      Hi, maggs...

      This was a pleasant surprise to me as I have always been fond of Westerns and Macaroni Westerns since I was young. Lee Van Cliff, Eli Wallach, Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman and Gene Hackman are among my favorite cowboys and villains. Great hub!

      Two Thumbs up!

      warmest regards and blessings,


    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Hi Candie, I am sure you are right about having to put a cage round the tombstone to protect it because if it weren’t there it would be too inviting and would no doubt tempt others to try to steal it. Thanks for the visit, lots of love maggs

    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Hi Hello, hello I am glad that you enjoyed your little virtual visit to Fort Sumner and Billy's authentic grave.

    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Sunny Spain

      Hi Ethel, the Portaloo left a lot to be desired and you would have had to be really desperate to use it even without the assorted spiders and other bugs that had made their home in it. It was certainly not for the faint-hearted lol.

    • maggs224 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Sunny Spain

      ewadfs you are right it is crazy, but it is a crazy world that we live in lol

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 

      8 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      Thanks Maggs! This was a great hub on Billy the kid! I'm not surprised people stole his grave marker, and although it looks tacky, the fence is a good idea to preserve historical figures. He (though a really bad guy) helped make the 'wild west' what it was! Thank you for sharing another adventure!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      This was so enjoyable to read and seeing a piece of history, after all. Thank you so much. I would love to go there.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      My hubby would love this. I am with you on the portaloo matter

    • ewadfs profile image


      8 years ago from New Jersey

      that's crazy that someone would try and steal his tombstone!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)