The convoluted name sums up the tragic history of this bleak, windswept spot, beside the Pecos River 6 miles southeast of town. Fort Sumner was built in 1862 to guard the Bosque Redondo Reservation, a prison to some 9000 Navajos forced from their homeland on the Long Walk, plus 500 captured Mescalero Apaches. Over 2000 Navajos died before an 1868 treaty authorized their return home. Set to open in 2020, a revamped exhibit area will tackle these events from multiple perspectives.
Just before the fort is where Sheriff Pat Garrett shot Billy the Kid in 1881. Here you'll find Billy the Kid's Grave, protected by an iron cage because 'souvenir hunters' kept trying to steal the headstone – even in death he's behind bars.