“Billy the Kid's hideout”
The year 1868 saw the building of the historic Dowlin Mill, Ruidoso’s’ oldest building by Captain Paul Dowlin and his brother Will. “Captain Paul”, as he was known by locals, was stationed at Fort Stanton during the Civil War and decided to make his home in New Mexico. The mill served many purposes during its youth, as grist mill, saw mill, bean thrasher, blacksmith shop, general store… and possibly, according to the tales of old timers, a source of “moonshine”. The little village which grew up around the mill came to be known as “Dowlin’s Mill” and the mill was the first post office, presided over by postmaster Frank Lesner as “Capitan Paul” had met a violent end, murdered by a disgruntled employee. Many stories surround the mill, with a list of characters as colorful as the Wild West itself. Pat Garrett was known to frequent the place, perhaps sometimes in search of the young desperado, William Bonney, who became known as “Billy the Kid”. Billy was known to enjoy visiting the mill and once was saved from apprehension by the swift action of young Annie Lesnet who hid him in a handy flour barrel as a posse approached. Billy was well liked by the Dowlin and Lesnet families and enjoyed the village suppers and dances held in the mill building. Lt. John Pershing, later known as “General Black Jack” dropped by while he was at Fort Stanton, and later on, another soon-to-be famous soldier, Douglass MacArthur stopped in as well. As the twentieth century progressed, the mill, having been supplanted by more modern milling methods, fell into disrepair and was fast disintegrating into a ruin until it was rescued by Carmon and Leona Mae Phillips in the late 1940s. Through heroic, exhausting efforts, they restored the old building, thereby saving one of New Mexico’s historic treasures. The Phillips opened a very popular gift shop there in 1950. For years, visitors were enthralled with the mill race and the graceful giant old wheel once more turning the massive grinding stones, 0ne of the few remaining operable large-scale water wheels in the Southwest.
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Old Dowlin Mill
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