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IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF BILLY THE KID

I know it is not heaven. However, in all of my travels, I have concluded that on earth it may be as close as we can get.
I love Kingman. Having lived here, off and on, for the past forty years I consider it my hometown. However, tucked away in the mountains along the southwestern edge of New Mexico is a little town that somehow magically becomes everyone’s dream town made manifest.
The difficult to swallow liberalism that would seem normal in a place such as Berkeley intertwines almost seamlessly with a frontier like atmosphere of ranchers and miners there. In the stores and on the streets Spanish is heard as often as English, just as it has here for more than a century.
Just as with the community of Prescott the historic district is vibrant and alive having never succumbed to the abandonment that accompanied the rise of suburbia and the strip mall. Yet the modern era is alive and well as made evident by generic palaces such as a super Walmart.
In the historic district you can grab a first rate Mexican lunch at a bargain price in a café that seems lifted from small town America circa 1950. Afterwards it is but a short stroll down the street to shop at a food co-op reminiscent of the Bay area circa 1969, to look for quality camping gear at an Army/Navy store in operation since 1946 or check into a fully restored turn of the century hotel.
If you prefer something more rural for the setting of your after lunch stroll there is the Big Ditch Park, a beautiful strip park on the banks of a small stream under towering trees just one block from Bullard Street, the main drag.
There is a thriving section of art galleries and a vintage watering hole, a near perfect time capsule of the neighborhood tavern southwestern style as it was about 1950. In addition, there are two fine museums, an indoor antique mall, and sidewalk coffee shops.
Open desert spaces, as well as numerous ghost towns, are just a few miles from town. Lakes and rivers in the nearby mountains provide many opportunities for the angler. More than 1,510 miles of trails wind through 3.3 million acres of national forest and wilderness.
If your lure to adventure is history, it abounds here in spades. There are mines that have been in operation since 1799 and a steakhouse in a saloon built in the mid 1860s. There are graveyards with towering monuments among the pines, cliff dwellings, and state parks with stone monoliths worthy of Easter Island.
Billy the Kid walked the streets here. His first arrest and first escape from jail took place here. His mother is buried in the Memory Lane Cemetery.
Teddy Roosevelt hunted on the XSX Ranch. Kit Carson worked as a teamster in the mining camps in the mountains to the north of town. Butch Cassidy laid low under an assumed name on the nearby WS Ranch. Judge Roy Bean, famous as the hanging judge who made his own law west of the Pecos ran a store in a rough and ready mining camp a few miles from town. At a resort built at a nearby hot springs the Chicago White Stockings, now the White Sox, held their spring training.
This wondrous little gem is appropriately named Silver City.

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