May 12 - 18, 2011 
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Feature

7 Grave Wonders

Rest in peace, famous dead Americans

By Melody Daskalos
Julia Minamata juliaminamata.com

Billy the Kid

Nov. 23, 1859-July 14, 1881

Legends about this outlaw will go on forever, but we do know that he was shot to death at age 21. A cage has been placed around Billy the Kid’s entire grave because thieves have attempted to steal his tombstone multiple times. You can find his “jail cell” at Old Fort Sumner Cemetery in De Baca County.

Elfego Baca

Feb. 10, 1865-Aug. 27, 1945

If it wasn't for Baca, New Mexico might not have been around today. This colorful lawyer stood up against Texans for our territory back in the late 1800s. His grave is over at Sunset Memorial Park in Albuquerque.

D.H. Lawrence

Sept. 11, 1885-March 2, 1930

An exceptional poetic novelist all the way from England. Lawrence and his wife, Frieda, moved to New Mexico in 1924 after visiting the area just one time. You can travel to their lovely home, now known as Kiowa Ranch, in Taos. Rumor has it that Lawrence’s ashes are mixed into the cement of the memorial building on the property.

Dennis Hopper

May 17, 1936-May 29, 2010

While filming Easy Rider in Taos in ’68, director and actor Dennis Hopper fell in love with the town and everything around it. If you make your way up to northern New Mexico, stop by his grave site at Jesus Nazareno Cemetery and ask around. You’re bound to hear some stories about him.

Smokey Bear

Circa 1950-Nov. 9, 1976

Smokey Bear has been a national symbol for fire prevention ever since the real-life cub was rescued from a destructive forest fire in southern New Mexico. After 26 years, this famous black bear passed away in his sleep; his grave is now on display at the Smokey Bear Historical Park located in Capitan.

Randy Castillo

Dec. 18, 1950-March 26, 2002

From humble beginnings as a drummer in his high school’s band, Randy Castillo went on to play with Ozzy Osbourne for nearly a decade. Toward the end of his life in 2002, he even landed a stint with Mötley Crüe. Look around the walls at the mausoleum church in the Mount Calvary Cemetery in Albuquerque to find this renowned New Mexican musician’s grave.

HAM the Astrochimp

Circa July 1956-Jan. 19, 1983

He was the world’s first chimpanzee to ever rocket into space. HAM proved that it was possible to travel to orbit in under 17 minutes, then lived for more than 26 years on this planet. He’s now buried in front of the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo.

 
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