History Features

The Outlaw Cowboys of New Mexico

New Mexico has had its share of cowboys, but more than a few rode the owl hoot trail.

On the frontier folks in general disdained the banks, the railroads and the large express companies, who they felt preyed on the poor and disadvantaged.

Rank and file cowboys often refused to join posses chasing outlaws on general principal. These same cowboys admired outlaws because many bandits exhibited the qualities of first-class range men: courage, endurance and self-reliance.

One New Mexican cowman claimed “Tom [Black Jack] Ketchum was the finest cowhand I ever knew.” Another rancher claimed Butch Cassidy was a top trail boss. It also didn’t hurt that outlaws and cowboys loved good horseflesh.

Put together, it’s not surprising that New Mexico’s cowboys felt a strong kinship with outlaws. In that regard, you might even include almost everyone in the United States of America.

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