Destination :: Fort Davis National Historic Site

  • Fort Davis National Historic Site: For small, one-story buildings line up in a row, backdropped by hills.

    Shared Lieutenants' Quarters. May 2018. Image 1/6

  • Fort Davis National Historic Site: The ruins of two-story buildings are visible against a hill.

    Officers' Quarters. May 2018. Image 2/6

  • Fort Davis National Historic Site: A period wagon sits next to a marked trail; preserved foundations and hills are visible in the background.

    Preserved foundations and a period wagon. May 2018. Image 3/6

  • Fort Davis National Historic Site: Rough-cut stone steps lead up a steep hillside.

    One of the Tall Grass Loop access points. May 2018. Image 4/6

  • Fort Davis National Historic Site: A trail leads along the crest of a sparsely covered hill.

    View along the North Ridge Trail. May 2018. Image 5/6

  • Fort Davis National Historic Site: A trail disappears into the distance, flanked by two hills.

    Hospital Canyon Trail. May 2018. Image 6/6

Fort Davis was established to help protect settlers and travelers from raids by native Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches in the 1800s. Today, the site is one of the best-preserved forts from the period of the Texas-Indian Wars, and includes buildings in a variety of states, from bare foundations to restored and furnished buildings.

Brief History

1820s
Raiding by the Apaches, Commanches, and Kiowas is common in what was then Northern Mexico. When the Mexican War ends, the United States takes over responsibility for protecting travelers and settlers in the area.1
October 23, 1854
Fort Davis is established to help protect settlers and travelers on the frontier from raids by the Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches.2
Spring 1861
The Civil War causes the federal government to withdraw troops. Confederate troops occupy the fort.3
Summer 1862
The federal government takes over management of the fort again, although it is soon abandoned.
June 1867
Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Merritt reoccupies the fort with four cavalry companies. Most of the original buildings were no longer habitable, and rebuilding began immediately.
1869
Thanks to rebuilding efforts, the fort now has a post, officers' quarters, enlisted men's barracks, a guardhouse, a hospital, and storehouses.
1875
The Texas-Indian Wars officially end, although Apaches continue to threaten travelers on the San Antonio-El Paso road.
1880
Fort Davis conducts its last major military campaign, driving the Apaches into Mexico.
1880s
Building ceased in the 1880s, by which time the fort had over 100 structures.
1881
Fort Davis transitions from providing military support to providing escort services, conducting infrastructure repairs, and pursuing bandits.
1885
Most of the remaining Native tribes in the Southwest have been forced onto reservations.4
June 1891
The army begins consolidating its frontier forts; Fort Davis is determined to have "outlived its usefulness" and is abandoned.
1961
Fort Davis becomes a National Historic Site.

Location

Fort Davis, Texas, 79734
United States

Website

Evaluation

Once or Twice is Enough

Informative displays and plenty of information make self-guided walking tours a breeze. The trails, which can be steep in places and require some easy scrambling, offer fantastic views of the surrounding country and have interpretive plaques every so often, many of which describe the various ways local flora and fauna can be deadly.

Visits: 1 Visited: May 2018

Quick Statistics

Size
523 acres5
Trails
Over 3.5 miles6
Elevation
4,900 feet7

Notes

  1. Fort Davis (brochure), NPS.
  2. "Fort Davis National Historic Site" (Heiner), NPS.
  3. Unless otherwise noted, information about the park and park history is from "Fort Davis: Frontier Post," NPS.
  4. Fort Davis (brochure), NPS.
  5. Fort Davis (brochure), NPS.
  6. Fort Davis National Historic Site: Hiking and Interpretive Trails, NPS.
  7. Fort Davis (brochure), NPS.

References

  • "Fort Davis: Frontier Post." Fort Davis National Historic Site. National Park Service. September 22, 2012. Accessed September 5, 2018. Link.
  • Fort Davis. Brochure. National Park Service. Accessed September 5, 2018. Link.
  • Fort Davis National Historic Site: Hiking and Interpretive Trails. Map. National Park Service. 2016. Accessed September 5, 2018. Link.
  • Heiner, John. "Fort Davis National Historic Site." National Park Getaways. National Park Service. January 2, 2012. Accessed September 5, 2018. Link.