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