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On Walkabout At: Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

If stopping by to visit the nearby Lincoln, New Mexico it is worth the drive to take a look at the historic Fort Stanton:


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Fort Stanton was established in 1855 in order to protect the growing settlements such as Lincoln that were along the Rio Bonito River.  These settlements needed protection from raids launched by the nearby Mescalero Apaches.  However, the Civil War caused the government to abandon the post in 1861 and it was occupied for a short time by Confederate soldiers.  The Civil War allowed the Mescalero Apaches to pretty much have free reign to attack the settlements in the area until the war ended.  In 1863 the US government decided to take decisive action by sending Colonel Kit Carson to round up the Apaches and end their raiding.  With the help of soldiers stationed at Camp Stanton, Carson was successful in subduing the Apaches at their stronghold located in the Sacramento Mountains’ Dog Canyon.  You can read more about this battle at the below posting:

The Apaches were subdued but over the next few years there would be a few more flair ups with the Indians that the soldiers at Fort Stanton would have to respond to.  The troops were also used in 1878 to respond to the Lincoln County War that led to the rise of the legend of Billy the Kid.  By 1896 the Indian Wars were over and the post was decommissioned.  The post was then turned into a Merchant Marine Hospital for many years.  During World War II the fort was turned into a German internment camp.  In the 1950’s the fort was handed over to the State of New Mexico which turned it into a hospital for those that suffer from tuberculosis.  The fort was finally turned into a low security prison in 1996 which it continues to be used for today.  Due to the fact some of the buildings are still being used as a prison and many others are old and rickety visitors cannot tour anything other than the visitor center in the middle of the fort:

Picture from Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

There really isn’t a whole lot to see in the visitor or even in the fort.  I just walked around and took pictures of the old buildings:

Picture from Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

Picture from Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

Here is a picture of the fort’s old parade field:

Picture from Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

Here is the walls to the prison located on the fort:

Picture from Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

One of the nice things about visiting the fort is that it does offer some nice views of the Capitan Mountains:

Picture from Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

Picture from Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

Here is a view of Capitan Gap which is where the famous “Smokey Bear” was rescued back in 1950:

Picture from Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

As mentioned earlier in this posting, Fort Stanton was once a hospital for the Merchant Marines which means that some of the patients as the hospital would have passed away at the hospital.  Some of those that passed away were buried at the nearby Fort Stanton Cemetery:

Picture from Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

Here is was a memorial at the cemetery in recognition of the Merchant Marines during World War II:

Picture from Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

Picture from Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

Picture from Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

The Merchant Marines aren’t the only people buried at the cemetery there are also a few Army personnel as well who I assume are probably locals that passed away:

Picture from Ft. Stanton, New Mexico

Like I said before it is worth a drive to go and take a look at Fort Stanton in combination with a visit to historic Lincoln especially if you heading back through Ruidoso.  The drive from Fort Stanton to Ruidoso is filled with spectacular views of Sierra Blanca Peak and the White Mountains.

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