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Along the Texas Forts Trail

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The task of providing military defense for the Texas Frontier was never an easy one because the territory was claimed by some of the greatest querrilla fighters of all times—the Comanches, Kiowas, Apaches, and Lipans. Protecting a line running from the Red River southwest to El Paso was an impossible task, but following the Mexican War the federal government attempted to do so by establishing a line of forts. During the Civil War the forts were virtually abandoned and the Indians once again ruled the area. Following the war when the military began to restore the old forts, they found that the Indians no longer fought with bows and arrows but shouldered the latest firearms. With their new weapons the Indians were able to inflict tremendous destruction, bringing demands from settlers for more protection. In the summer of 1866 a new line of forts appeared through central Texas under the leadership of General Philip H. Sheridan, commander of federal forces in Louisiana and Texas. Guardians of a raw young land and focal points of high adventure, the old forts were indispensable in their day of service and it is fitting that they be preserved. In and around the forts and along the route of the Texas Forts Trail, history is abundant and enduring. Historian Rupert Richardson first wrote the travel guide of the fort locations for the Texas Highway Department. B. W. Aston and Donathan Taylor took the original version and revised and expanded it, giving additional historical information on the forts and their role in frontier defense, making this a valuable historical resource as well as a travel guide to the forts and surrounding towns.

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Fort Richardson

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Fort Belknap

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Fort Belknap•23TOURIST INFORMATION(When possible please call ahead to be sure these services are still available.)Fort Belknap (940-846-3222)Registered National Historic Landmark. Fort Belknap is owned by the citizens of Young County and no charge is made for its use. Guided tours of the Museums may be arranged by writing or calling: FortBelknap, Newcastle, TX 76372 (940-846-3222)Points ofinterest:The Commissary contains a museum and gift shop, open from 9-5 every weekday except Wednesday.On Sunday it is open from 1:30-5. The museum contains tools, weapons and furniture used on the frontier. Pictures offormer officers stationed at the fort are of special interest.The sound of "Reveille" and "Taps," the voices of soldiers and the sound of horses' hoofs echo across the Parade Grounds of old Fort Belknap.Cox Grape Arbor, where many family reunions and other gatherings are held each year, was planted byBurl W. Cox, an early day Belknap school teacher, farmer and naturalist. Some of the Mustang Grape vines covering this arbor are nine feet tall and measure fifty-four inches in circumference.

 

Fort Griffin

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Fort Phantom Hill

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Fort Phantom Hill

fascinating story of the Clear Fork country frontier. Through the years he made the production an event of renown. Since his death his associates have continued this fine production.

While you are in the neighborhood you might want to take a short detour east along Highway 180 and visit Lake Hubbard and

Breckenridge which was the center of the oil boom in this part of

Texas.

On approaching the post you will see the remaining chimneys standing like sentinels on l/I~s t along H ighway 180 to FM what looks like a formidable hill overlooking

600. and thm ~ the Clear Fork of the Brazos. As one nears the

(ud soulh to Fort hill it disappears and becomes a gentle slope,

Phantom HiQ. barely perceptible when one arrives; thus one of the stories of how the post got its name. A second account has to do with a nervous sentry firing on what he thought was an Indian on the hill. A following investigation failed to discover the presence of any Indians, and one of the troopers suggested that the man had seen a ghost. Whatever the case, Major General Persifor F. Smith, commanding the Fifth Military Department (Texas), in General Orders Number 91 ordered a post established "at, or in the immediate vicinity of, a point known as

 

Fort Chadborne

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Fort Chadbourne•57TOURIST INFORMATION(Whe n possible please call to be sure these services are still available.)Albany (915/ 762-2525)Chamber of Commerce, P. O . Box 185, Albany, TX 76430Population:2,040Points of-,at:Shackelford County CourtHouse, built in 1883-84The squareOld Jail Art Center, on Second Street one block east of the the courthouse, permanent exhibits include works of Giacomo Manzu, John Marin, CharlesUmlauf, Louise Nevelson, Henry Moore, AmedeoModigliani, Pablo Picasso, and examples of Chinese art from the Han, Wei, Sui, Tang and Ming Dynasties. Housed in a restored county jail (c. 1878).Open Tuesday-Saturday from 10-5, Sunday from2-5.Ledbetter Picket House, 700 Railroad Street, restored frontier dog-run cabin built of slender upright poles (pickets), with rustic period furnishings.Open daily from 8-5.Matthews Memorial Presbyterian Church, built in1898 and housing one of the finest pipe organs inWest TexasOld MKT Depot, Central and Main Streets, serves as chamber of commerce office, community center and exhibit area for local handicrafts. Open weekdays.

 

Fort Concho

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80•Fort ConchoTOURIST INFORMATION(When possible please call ahead to be sure these services are still available.)Fort Concho (915/481-2646/657-4444)Points of interest:Twenty-three original and restored fort structures(National Historic Landmark). Authentically refurbished exhibit buildings include a restored headquarters, soldiers barracks, officer's quarters, chapel/school, and post hospital. Exhibits tell the story of the fort, the Indian campaigns and of SanAngelo. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 10-5, Sunday 15. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.Call the Chamber of Commerce for the dates ofChristmas at Fort Concho.Four living history units: Fort Concho Infantry, Sixteenth Regiment, Co. F, (ca. 1880); Fort ConchoCavalry, Fourth Regiment, Co. D, (ca. 1872); FortConcho Buffalo Soldiers, Tenth Regiment, Co. D,(ca. 1878), who also travel to perform in other communitiesMuseum and bookstoreSan Angelo (800-375-1206/915-653-1206) population:87,980Lakes and rivers:Lake Nasworthy and the Concho River Walk

 

Fort McKavett

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Fort McKavett•95TOURIST INFORMATION(When possible please call ahead to be sure these services are still available.)Fort McKavett State Historic Site(915-396-2358) P.O. Box 867, Fort McKavett, TX 76841Open daily 8-5 population:103Points of Interfit:Currently, fifteen buildings have been restored, including officers' quarters, hospital barracks, post headquarters, school house, bakery, dead house, sink, and ruins of numerous others.Interpretive exhibits in the old hospital ward trace the history of the Fort McKavett area, emphasizing military history, the post-military community, and historic archeaology.A self-guided trail leads to the military lime kiln and"Government Springs."Picnic tables are available for day use.March: Annual Re-enactment; Weapons demonstration upon requestMenardPopulation:1,774Points of interest:Ruins of Real Presidio de San Saba, Spanish fort established in 1751 to protect Mission Santa Cruz de San Saba. Ruins maintained as county park two miles west off Texas 29. Picnic facilities and adjacent campgrounds.

 

Fort Mason

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Fort Mason•105TOURIST INFORMATION(When possible please call ahead to be sure these services are still available.)Fort MasonReconstruction of the officer's quarters stands atop Post Hill, which can be reached from downtown via Post Hill Street. A number of crumbling foundations still show some sites of 23 original buildings that included barracks, officers' quarters, storehouses, stables, guardhouse and hospital. The reconstructed building is on original foundations; double fireplace foundations are original, and rock used was from original building materials of fort.Mason(915/347-5758)Chamber of Commerce, 108 Ft. McKavett, Mason, TX 76856PoJnUtUUm:Poina of it., Nt:2,100Greek Revival courthouseSeaquist Victorian Mansion, 400 Broad Street, built of sandstone, the 22-room house is elaborately detailed with carved limestone. Group tours are available by calling 512-352-6415.EckertJames River Bat Cave Preserve, open fromMay-October, Thursday-Sunday, 6-9, you can visit one of the largest Mexican free-tailed bat colonies known. Call 915-347-5970 for information and directions.

 

Back to Jacksboro

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128•Back to JacksboroTOURIST INFORMATION(When possible please call ahead to be sure these services are still available.)Brady (915 / 597-3491)PopuIatUm:5,924lAJcn and Paris:Lake Brady, City Park, Kenneth Medlock RangePoints ofinternt:Heart of Texas Historical Museum contains early ranch and home exhibits, farm implements, pioneer weapons, vintage photos, and memorabilia.Housed in restored county jail (c. 1910), still exhibiting cells and prisoner hardware. Open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday afternoons. Corner ofHigh and Main Streets, one block west of town square.McCulloch County CourthouseMcCulloch County MuseumRestored Santa Fe Depot serves as an art gallery and studio, at Depot and North Bridge StreetsAnnual events:January: County Livestock Show and SaleMarch,June, October: Texas Muzzle Loading RifleAssociationMay: Cinco de Mayo Celebration, Heart of TexasGolf Tournamen tJune: Miss Heart of Texas PageantJuly: Jubilee Celebration, 4th of July, Stan GuffeyMemorialJunior RodeoAugust: Brady Junior Rodeo

 

Fort Bliss

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Additional Forts

4:30. Closed Christmas, New Year's, Easter and Thanksgiving. For additional information call 915-568-4518.

E1 Paso

Popultttion:

583,431

AhiIude:

3,762

Points of Inmwt:

EI Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1 Civic

Center Plaza

Border Patrol Museum, 4315 Transmountain Road

(Loop 375), Tuesday-Sunday 9-5.

Chamizal National Memorial, Paisano and San

Marcial Streets, daily 8-5.

Concordia Cemetery, Exit 1-10 at Copia, historic cemetery and landmark, includes grave of gunfighter John Wesley Hardin

El Paso Centennial Museum, University of Texas at

El Paso, University Avenue and Wiggins Road, Tuesday-Friday 10-3; Sunday 1:30-5:30

El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center, 401

Wallenberg, 915-833-5656. Open Sunday-Thursday

1-4.

EI Paso Museum of Art, 1211 Montana Avenue,

Tuesday-Saturday 10-5; Sunday 1-5.

El Paso Museum of History, 1-10 at Loop 375 (Avenue of the Americas), Tuesday-Sunday 9-4:45.

Air Defense Artillery Museum, Fort Bliss, Building

5000, Pleasanton Road near Robert E. Lee Road, daily 9-4:30. Closed Christmas, New Year's, Easter and Thanksgiving.

 

Fort Clark

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Additional Forts

Bliss, Wainright, and Patton can be slept in by visitors to the site.

Old Guardhouse Museum has local and pioneer history exhibits.

Saturday, Sunday 1-4. For information about the park call 830563-2493,800-937-1590.

Brackettville

Population:

1,883

AlIitude:

1, 11 0

Points of Interest:

Alamo Village, 7 miles north on RM 674, is a recreation center built around the movie set for John

Wayne's The Alamo, filmed in 1959. One of the largest and most complete sets ever constructed in the

U.S., the Alamo replica was built by adobe craftsmen from Mexico. It overlooks a complete frontier village of the 1800s. Operated by Shahan Angus

Ranch, the set includes a cantina-restaurant, trading post, Indian store, authentic stage depot, oldtime jail, bank, saddle shop, and other typical Old

West structures. During the summer months visitors see shows, often interrupted by shoot-outs between frontier lawmen and desperados. Open daily at 9

AM.

Admission.

Historic Buildings: St. Mary Magadalene Catholic

 

Fort Davis

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Additional Forts •

141

of raiding Indians. A group settled in Brackettville around Fort Clark. Descendants remain as farmers and ranchers and maintain the old cemetery which includes the graves of four Medal of Honor winners.

FORT DAVIS

In October of 1854, Brevet General Persifor F. Smith, commanding the Department of Texas, selected the site of Fort Davis and named the post after Secretary of War Jefferson Davis. Six companies of the Eighth United States Infantry under Lieutenant Colonel Washington Seawell arrived at Painted Comanche

Camp, the site of an Indian village, on Limpia Creek to build and garrison the post. Confederate cavalry under Colonel John R.

Baylor occupied the fort for almost a year, then retreated to San

Antonio after failing to take New Mexico.

Federal troops under Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Merritt reoccupied the fort and began construction of a new post. Fort Davis became a major installation with quarters for more than 600 men and more than sixty adobe and stone structures. From 1867 to

 

Fort Duncan

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Additional Forts

Limpia Cottage, on the side of Sleeping Lion Mountain, 915-426-3237, 800-662-5517

Line Shack Texas, Cemetery Road, 915-426-3097

Neill Doll Museum Bed & Breakfast, Court Street,

915-426-3969 or 426-3838

Paradise Mountain Ranch Bed & Breakfast, located on a working ranch 15 miles west of Fort Davis on Highway 166, 915-426-3737, 800-648-9162.

Veranda Country Inn Bed & Breakfast, Court Street,

1 block west of the courthouse, 915-426-2233.

Historic adobe inn.

Veranda Country Inn Carriage House, 1 block west of courthouse, 915-426-2233. Located behind the inn's gardens.

Wayside Inn Bed & Breakfast, NW of downtown at the base of Sleeping Lion Mountain, 915-4263535,800-582-7510.

FORTDUNCAN

Fort Duncan, located on the east side of the Rio Grande just above Eagle Pass, was established on March 27, 1849, by Captain

Sidney Burank, and occupied by three companies of the First U.

S. Infantry Regiment. During the Civil War the post was occupied by Confederate troops of the Frontier Regiment. Federal troops reoccupied the post in 1868. It remained under military authority until 1916. Its primary purpose was to protect the trade crossing into Mexico and travelers along the road to El Paso. It was taken over by the city in 1935, and today many restored stone buildings form the center of a municipal park and country club. The old headquarters serves as a museum. For additional information call

 

Fort Lancaster

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Fort Leaton

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Fort Stockton

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150

Additional Forts

Environmental Education Center, archeological, historical and natural history profile of the Big Bend region. Departure point for the tours of the Big

Bend Ranch State Natural Area the third Saturday of each month. Tour fee includes meal in the natural area; reservations advisable. 915-424-3327. Open

8-5 daily. Admission.

FORT STOCKTON

Fort Stockton, constructed of adobe and named for Robert

Field Stockton, was established by the United States Army on March

23, 1859, at Comanche Springs, which was within the site of the present city of Fort Stockton, for the protection of the mail service, travelers, and freighters. Comanche Springs was a favorite stop on the Comanche Trail to Chihuahua, the Old San Antonio

Road, the Butterfield Overland Mail route, and the San AntonioChihuahua freight-wagon road. Captain Arthur T. Lee, commanding Company C, Eighth Infantry, abandoned the post in April 1861.

The post was reoccupied by Captain Charles L. Pyron, in command of Company B. Second Regiment, Texas Mounted Rifles, until it was abandoned by the Confederates after General Henry

 

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