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Carrizozo | Greathouse Station and Tavern | Laguna Del Perro | Malpais-Valley of Fires | Salinas National Monument | Salt Lake | Vaughn
Carrizozo, county seat of Lincoln County, was established in 1899, a new town on the El Paso and Northeastern railroad. The ghost town of White Oaks, once a booming mining camp, is nearby. Billy the Kid, Sheriff Pat Garrett, Governor Lew Wallace and Albert Bacon Fall all figured prominently in the history of the area.
In late November, 1880, William "Billy the Kid" Bonney, David Rudabaugh and William Wilson were hiding out near here at a store and tavern operated by James Greathouse and a partner named Kuch. The night of November 27, they were surrounded by a posse. Deputy James Carlyle was accidentally killed when he attempted to negotiate the outlaws' surrender. Bonney and his companions escaped unharmed.
Numerous salt ponds and lakes, of which Laguna del Perro is the largest, occur in lowest part of Estancia Basin, closed depression between Manzano Mountains to west and low Pedernal Hills to east. Even paleoindians mined salt. Basin was filled by 150-foot-deep lake in late Pleistocene time.
Spanish explorers called this extensive lava flow malpais, or badlands. The river of lava that flowed down this "Valley of Fires" erupted from a volcano some 7 miles south of here about 1000 years ago. Extending through the valley for 44 miles, the malpais average 3 miles in width. This ropy type of lava is called "pahoehoe."
This unique regional complex of prehistoric Indian pueblos and associated 17th -century Franciscan mission ruins constitutes a "capsule in time" in which the first century of Native American-European contact in what is now the United States is preserved. The complex includes Ado, Quarai, and Gran Quivria Ruins. The central visitor center is in Mountainair's historic Shaffer Hotel.
The Pedernal Hills form the eastern edge of Spanish New Mexico's 17th century "Salinas Jurisdiction." Pueblo Indians used salt from these salinas in trade with Plains Indians. This salt was also prized by the Spaniards because of its use in silver processing for the rich Chihuahuan mines farther south in Mexico.
Vaughn a division point in the transcontinental railway system, is located along the route of the Stinson cattle trail. In 1882, Jim Stinson, manager of the New Mexico Land and Livestock Co., drove 20,000 cattle in eight separate herds along this important trail from Texas to the Estancia Valley.