When pioneers and gold seekers surged west in the mid-1800s, national concern focused on secure travel routes. In Texas, nearly 600 miles of wilderness stretched between San Antonio and El Paso. Throughout the distance, wagon travelers fell prey to some fiercely hostile Native American tribes. Fort Davis, established in 1854, was the first military post to guard the route and offer haven by the precious waters of Limpia Creek.
But the trauma of the Civil War stripped the frontier of military protection, and little of value remained when federal troops returned to Fort Davis in 1867. New construction eventually produced substantial rock and adobe buildings that housed up to 12 companies of cavalry and infantry. Post-war troopers were black "buffalo soldiers," many of them former slaves from Southern plantations.
As the western movement resumed, troopers patrolled the long immigrant road, escorted mail and wagon trains, and mounted wide-ranging expeditions into the vast wilderness territory. After years of conflict, peace and civilian settlement finally came to the frontier. With the bluecoats no longer needed, Fort Davis was deactivated in 1891.
Operated by the National Park Service, Fort Davis today is a superb example of frontier forts from that epic era, including both ruins and restorations. A museum, open daily in reconstructed barracks, vividly interprets frontier military life.
Another feature is a sound re-creation of a 19th-century military parade, bugles and hoofbeats...the clank and jangle of mounted troops...music from band manuals of 1875. Echoing over the empty parade ground, it is a haunting fragment of the past.
Admission: Admission fee
Hours: Daily 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. except national holidays
Address: On the northern edge of town. From I-10 on the north, or U.S. 90 from the south, the site can be reached by Texas 17 and Texas 118.
Come visit us in Fort Davis, Texas