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Dowlin's Old Mill

641 Sudderth Drive

Ruidoso, NM 88345
Historic Site


Photo by Gina Kelley

The town of Ruidoso was actually called "Dowlin's Mill" in its early days. The mill was built in 1868 by Captain Paul Dowlin and his brother, Will.  Captain Paul served at Fort Stanton during the Civil War and established the mill after leaving the Army.

From 1868 to the turn of the 20th Century, the Old Mill was a grist mill, saw mill, bean thrasher, blacksmith shop, and general store. Legend has it that the Mill was also where locals went to buy their moonshine. Frank Lesnet was the first postmaster after Captain Paul was murdered in a dispute with an employee.

Like any legendary structure in the American West, the Old Mill has a colorful past. Billy the Kid, who was a family friend of both the Dowlin and Lesnet families, would often frequent dances and suppers at the Mill. Annie Lesnet was said to have actually hidden Billy in a flour barrel from pursuing lawmen. Other visiting legends of the day included Pat Garrett, "Black Jack" Pershing, Geronimo and future General Douglas MacArthur.

For many years the Old Mill was in a state of run until Carmon and Leona Mae Phillips renovated the collapsing structure. Together they virtually saved a historic New Mexico landmark, which they opened as a gift shop in 1950.

One of the few remaining large-scale working water wheels in the Southwest, it still grinds flour and corn meal on the premises.


Historic Site