San Elizario’s Old County Jail is a small treat for Billy the Kid fans
A small, hidden historical footnote in the El Paso, Texas, area is the Old County Jail in San Elizario, Texas.
I’m not going to tell you it’s a great architectural example of the adobe style, or even played a more than minor role in the history of the West, but for history lovers and aficionados of Billy the Kid, it offers a glimpse into the past that has managed to survive.
Around a half hour from El Paso, the old adobe building, built around 1850, was El Paso County’s official jail from 1850-1866 and from 1868 to 1873, when San Elizario was the El Paso County seat. A plaque outside the building says it housed both the jail and courtroom. The building is built around steel cells reportedly purchased in Chicago. The cells still can be seen inside the building, although you might need a flashlight to see them since the building is usually closed, without any lighting. You will need a flash on your camera to take a photo of the interior.
There is enough parking for several vehicles near the building, but not too many people seem to stop by, so it’s unlikely you’ll need to worry about it.
Don’t let the limited appeal of the jail keep you from discovering other gems in the San Elizario area, including San Elizario Catholic Church, which is a block away from the jail; the nearby plaza where the wedding scene from the movie “Fandango” was filmed; Licon Dairy; and the many shops and restaurants you’ll come across on the way. Explore them and you can find folk art, pottery and good Mexican food.
Address:1461 Main Street, San Elizario, Texas, 79849
Hours: You get to look at the building from the outside, but I’ve never seen it open for tours. However, San Elizario celebrates the Kidd’s 1876 breakout of his buddy with a Billy the Kid Festival, which in 2010 was set for June 11-13. For more information on the festival: The Billy the Kid Festival