McSween Ambush

Going Back in Time at Old Lincoln Days

History buffs, thrill seekers and lovers of the Old West were the target audience for this past weekend’s Old Lincoln Days, Aug. 7-9 in Lincoln, New Mexico.

Site of the world famous Lincoln County War, the town of Lincoln sees its population increase 10-fold as visitors from around the country and around the world cram into this historic village to witness a little recreation of history.

The original Lincoln County Courthouse still stands in this town at the foothills of the Sacramento Mountains, and it was the site of one of the most famous jailbreaks in history, one which sprung legendary outlaw Billy The Kid.

Locals recreate that jailbreak each year with a pageant known as “The Last Escape of Billy The Kid.”

Gunning down Ollinger
Brett McInnes, as Billy The Kid, guns down deputy Bob Ollinger in his escape from the Lincoln County Courthouse.

Dating back to 1940 – with famed artist Peter Hurd portraying the Kid – the pageant has run continuously ever since. Originally, the pageant was presented on the grounds of the original courthouse, but now a full-sized set – representing the entire village as it looked in 1881, when the Kid – also known as Patrick McCarty – made his “last escape” from the Lincoln County Courthouse after being sentenced to hang for his part in the killing of Sheriff William Brady.

The pageant actually portrays all the events of the Lincoln County War, a series of skirmishes between rival Murphy-Dolan and Tunstall-McSween factions in 1878.

Since the 1970s, the McInnes family of Capitan has been involved with the pageant, and this year’s show is directed McSween Ambushby Kent McInnes. His son Brett plays Billy the Kid, his 11th year as part of the production.

“The script was written by some of the actual people in the Lincoln County War,” McInnes said. “It’s close to the same, just with some tweaks here and there.”

Brett McInnes
Lincoln County local Brett McInnes once again dons the hat, boots and revolver to portray Billy The Kid at this year’s Old Lincoln Days.

The pageant runs all three days, with 8:30 p.m. performances Aug. 7-8 and a 3:30 p.m. matinee performance at 3 p.m. Aug. 9.

Additionally, living history demonstrations, concerts and artisan demonstrations are scheduled throughout the weekend, with special tours of the original courthouse given.

There is also a parade starting at 11 a.m. on Aug. 9, leading to the pageant grounds. Nicole Brady – morning anchor for KOB-TV in Albuquerque and the great-great-great-granddaughter of William Brady – is parade marshall.

For more information on events and tickets, visit

All photos courtesy Billy The Kid Pageant.