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The Last Frontier

April 1935

Gradually we are beginning to grasp the extent of that unusual undertaking of last winter, the Public Works of Art Project, although much of the work completed since the government's patronage of art ceased to be a seven-days' wonder, has had little acclaim outside of the locality for which it was made. Yet some of it is of high quality.

The reproductions on this page and pages following are of mural panels painted under the Project by Vernon Hunter, an artist of Texico, New Mexico, for the new courthouse at the town of Fort Sumner. They tell the story of the passing of the last American frontier; of the settling of a strip of territory in the Southwest, between the XIT Ranch and the Pecos River, overlooked a few years earlier in the rush to the West. They give the earlier history: Fort Sumner established in the sixties a few miles from the site of the present town; and the adventures of Billy the Kid.

The first days of Texico, prairie town and amusement center for Texas cowboys, are pictured, and the later event that brought change to the country. But the murals are more than an interesting record of historical events and of the people who took part in them. They have charm and great decorative quality.


The force and vitality
that built up the Southwest

The stringing of the homesteader's
barbed-wire fence meant
the end of the open range


The Pecos River, Fort Sumner, 1865,
General Carlton, commander of the fort,
and Kit Carson, the Indian scout
Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid and his associates,
the house where he was killed, and,
inserted, portraits of his mother and the only man who ever drew his fire and escaped


A town of yesterday and of today


Kay Davis, University of Virginia, © 2001-2003