Programs & Services

Fort Stanton

Complex Tale of Cultural Collisions

Fort Stanton State Monument. Photo by Nika Sundaram.

The story of New Mexico’s distinctive character is a complex tale of cultural collisions, contested space, and often tragic and violent events. The state’s historic sites bring its history to life, and Fort Stanton is among the most unique and significant locations open to visitors.

A walk among the buildings and grounds at Fort Stanton transports visitors back in time to an era when New Mexico was still a sparsely populated American territory, and Native Americans, Hispanic settlers, and Anglo newcomers vied for dominance over the region and its resources.

Established by the United States government in 1855, Fort Stanton served as an American foothold in the newly acquired New Mexico territory and as a base of operation for the U.S. Army’s campaign to subdue and remove the local native Mescalero Apache people. Even before the Americans arrived, however, Hispanic ranchers and farmers settled the area and established villages, including nearby San Patricio and Las Placitas del Rio Bonito, soon to be renamed Lincoln.

During the bloody Lincoln County War, Fort Stanton and its soldiers played a critical role in restoring peace to the region and many of the conflict’s most celebrated and infamous characters, including Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, spent time at the fort.

In the final decades of the ninteenth century, the fort’s garrison actively took part in the final armed conflicts with Native American tribes in the region and many of the troops stationed at the post during this time included African-American “Buffalo” soldiers. Following the closing of the Western frontier in the 1890s, the U.S. Army abandoned Fort Stanton, as the need for a military installation in the region disappeared.

However, the story of Fort Stanton did not end then; it continued well into the twentieth century. Following the U.S. Army’s abandonment of the fort in the 1890s, the site served as a Merchant Marine tuberculosis treatment facility, a Civilian Conservation Corps work camp, an interment facility for German sailors during World War Two, and later a mental health hospital and minimum-security prison.

Fort Stanton Historic Site is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Mondays, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., and Sundays, noon–4 p.m. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The grounds of Fort Stanton are always open. 575-354-0341.

Fort Stanton is the best preserved territorial era army post in the state of New Mexico and a truly unique historical experience.

Fort Stanton
Capitan, NM. Take 380 south of Capitan,
making a left on 220
575-354-0341 | nmhistoricsites.org/fort-stanton

New Mexico CulturePass

Your ticket to New Mexico's exceptional Museums and Historic Sites.
From Indian treasures to space exploration, world-class folk art to awesome dinosaurs—our museums and monuments celebrate the essence of New Mexico every day.
More Info »

Cultural Atlas of New Mexico Mobile App

Where do you belong?
The Cultural Atlas of New Mexico leads you to historic and cultural places throughout the Land of Enchantment. Organized by region, proximity and interest, the Cultural Atlas will help you find where you belong.

Get it on Google Play

Featured DCA Exhibitions

Michael Naranjo Touching Beauty Exhibit

On display in the Bataan Building Atrium Gallery: Touching Beauty Now, sculpture by Santa Clara Pueblo’s Michael
more »

Multiple Visions: A Common Bond

Multiple Visions: A Common Bond has been the destination for well over a million first-time and repeat visitors to the
more »

New Mexico Colonial Home - Circa 1815

The Spanish colonial home (la casa) gives visitors an idea of what a home from the time around 1815 would have looked
more »

Alcoves 2020 #3

The third of six rotations of five artists at various career stages living and working in New Mexico
more »