Explore history and fulfill all your cultural needs during your vacation at our Ruidoso cabins. Museums in Ruidoso will enlighten you with area information and inspire you to take a deeper look into the past. After all, the more history you understand, the greater appreciation you will have of the present.
It really wasn’t very long ago that the only way to explore the West was on horseback. Lincoln County is rich in history, highlighted by the Lincoln County War of the 1870’s that made Billy the Kid a famous outlaw. Historical sights include Fort Stanton, just northeast of Ruidoso’s present airport. It was established in 1855, more than 50 years before New Mexico became the 47th state, in 1912.
Capitan Train Depot Museum
The depot was built as a part of the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad in 1899, before being given to the State of New Mexico as part of Smokey Bear Historical Park. It has been restored and now serves as a local museum, with exhibits and historical photos depicting generations of ranching and farming in Lincoln County.
Carrizozo Heritage Museum
103 12th Street, Carrizo
The Carrizozo Heritage Museum tells the story of the town’s historical connection to the railroad and offers a barbed wire exhibit and an entirely re-created, one-room classroom. Admission is free.
The Corona Museum is next to a lending library and a hotel and has exhibits of family heirlooms and treasures dating from the 1800’s to the turn of the 20th century.
Hubbard Museum of the American West
841 W Hwy. 70, Ruidoso Downs
Once known as the Museum of the Horse, this large facility offered so much more than horse-related attractions and exhibitions that it was later named the Hubbard Museum of the West and is now affiliated with the Smithsonian. It is situated on the east side of the race track on Hwy. 70 and is open daily from 9am to 5pm. The permanent collection of carriages, wagons, saddles, and western artifacts is supplemented with a changing schedule of shows and events. Be sure to take a stroll through the Free Spirits at Noisy Water sculpture, featuring larger-than-life bronze horses, outside the museum.
Fort Stanton Museum & Visitor Center
Fort Stanton, New Mexico
This historic fort was originally built in 1855 along the Rio Bonito to protect early settlers from Apache raiding parties. Since the early days it has served as a home to hundreds of Buffalo Soldiers, Kit Carson, John “Black Jack” Pershing, and Billy the Kid. The working fort was decommissioned in 1896 but has served as an interment camp for German and Japanese detainees, as well as a tuberculosis hospital.
The Fort Stanton Historic Site is a must-see attraction when visiting Lincoln County. Visitors are encouraged to take the self-guided tour around the property. The facility and grounds are located on Highway 220, bisecting the Billy the Kid Scenic Byway between Lincoln and Capitan.
about 15minutes east of Capitan
Lincoln is where the Lincoln County War took place and where Billy the Kid made his famous escape by shooting his way out of the Lincoln County Courthouse. The whole town of Lincoln is a living museum and includes the Old Lincoln County Courthouse, Dr. Woods House, the Tunstall Store, and the Anderson-Freeman Visitors’ Center, among other attractions.
The San Juan Mission Church is also open to the public, and services are still held here every Sunday. El Torreon is the first fort that was built in Lincoln County and still stands in the middle of town. The Dolan House was where James Dolan, who was involved in the Lincoln County War, lived and is now a bed & breakfast and restaurant. The Wortley Hotel is still serving lunch, just as it did on the day Sheriff’s Deputy Bob Olinger ran out and was shot by Billy the Kid (call ahead for details).
During the summer, different events and programs are organized by the Lincoln County Historical Society.
Mescalero Apache Culture Center
Mescalero, New Mexico
Monday-Friday, 8:00am– 4:30pm
Drive southwest from Ruidoso on Hwy. 70 about 25 minutes to reach the the administrative center of the Mescalero Apache Reservation. You will find the Cultural Center near the large community center on the south side of the highway. It displays Apache clothing and basketry of the Chiricahua, White Mountain, and Mescalero Apache tribes, along with photo exhibitions and artifacts.
26897 US Highway 70, Ruidoso Downs
Fox Cave has an eclectic collection of exhibits, larger-than-life statues — including dinosaurs, Paul Bunyan, and more — sculptures, and a collection on display that includes artifacts from the Titanic, amazing gemstones, Native American history, jewelry of the rich and famous, and amazing artifacts from ancient and far-away cultures. With a gift shop offering an endless assortment of memorabilia, toys, gems, jewelry, unique trinkets, and more, Fox Cave is always a big hit with parents and kids alike!
Smokey Bear Museum
102 Smoke Bear Blvd, Capitan
You’ve probably heard of Smokey Bear, the popular face of wildfire prevention. But did you know that the real Smokey Bear came from the Capitan Mountains, north of Ruidoso? Smokey Bear Museum commemorates his many contributions to the cause of raising awareness of fire danger. You will find displays and exhibits of firefighting in addition to displays and photographs documenting Smokey Bear’s origins, history, and dedication to public education. You can also visit Smokey’s grave in a peaceful walking garden behind the museum.
The Forest Service started the Smokey Bear fire prevention campaign in 1944. During the Capitan Gap Fire in 1950, a black bear cub was found clinging to a tree by some soldiers from Fort Bliss who were helping to fight the fire. He had burn injuries and needed medical attention. After he was taken to a vet, he was nursed back to health and sent to the National Zoo in Washington, DC. He would soon became the living mascot of the campaign and an enduring icon of American culture. The original Smokey Bear died in 1976 at the ripe old age of 26, and his obituary was featured in many newspapers across the country.
Wildland Firefighter Museum
102 Smoke Bear Blvd., Capitan
Firefighters’ unique work and their tools are explained in detail and are on display in this free museum, in the center of Capitan. See interesting photos of firefighting in action, as well as an evolution of firefighting strategies and techniques. This is the only museum of its kind in the country.
White Oaks School Museum
about 45 minutes northwest of Ruidoso in White Oaks, New Mexico
The town of White Oaks, New Mexico is largely considered a ghost town, with a number of historic buildings, including the Old Schoolhouse, the Old Brown Store, the old Chinese laundry building, and the famous No Scum Allowed Saloon. It has also become an artist haven.
The White Oaks Cemetery claims some famous residents as well, including William C. McDonald, the first governor of New Mexico, and Deputy Bell, who was killed by Billy the Kid during Billy’s famous escape from the County Courthouse in Lincoln. Alexander McSween’s widow, Susan McSween Barber, who was killed during the Lincoln County War, is also buried there.