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Lincoln County History

LINCOLN COUNTY’S rugged natural beauty, cowboys, vast ranch lands and exquisite orchards are all part of the varied setting of this county. Named after the martyred President, it was at one time the largest county in the United States, encompassing almost one-fourth of the state. The village of Lincoln, (first called Las Placitas and then Bonita) was the first county seat but in 1909 it was moved to its current location in Carrizozo, because the railroad had moved there and Lincoln was on the decline. The area was noted for the famed 1870’s Lincoln County War and for their first courthouse which is famous for being the site where Billy the Kid was jailed and later escaping from Sheriff Pat Garrett. New Deal funds made it possible to build a new courthouse in Carrizozo in 1940 and that structure is the annex to the current courthouse created in 1964.  Mescalero Apache and Hispanic history plus great fishing, hunting, skiing, quarter horse racing, casinos, museums, the Valley of Fires Recreation Area, Smokey Bear Museum and State Park and gorgeous mountain vistas make the county a year round recreational haven and the basis of the economy.

County population as of 2000 was 19,411.

For current Ruidoso information visit The Ruidoso Travel Guide or The Ruidoso Events Calendar.