Destination :: Fort Lancaster

  • Fort Lancaster: The chimney and wall foundations of one of the barracks are visible, backdropped by hills.

    Barracks. December 2017. Image 1/4

  • Fort Lancaster: The chimney and foundations of the wall of one of the barracks is visible against the hills and sky.

    Barracks. December 2017. Image 2/4

  • Fort Lancaster: Low adobe brick walls mark the foundations of several officers' quarters.

    Officers' Quarters. December 2017. Image 3/4

  • Fort Lancaster: The scarred remains of wagon ruts are visible descending a hill.

    Wagon Ruts Still Visible in the Hills. December 2017. Image 4/4

Fort Lancaster was established in the 1850s to provide protection for settlers and travels in the south west. Today, visitors can tour the ruins of the fort’s 25 permanent structures, visit the museum, and catch a glimpse of wagon ruts still visible in the hills.

Brief History

1,000-8,000 years ago
Prehistoric indigenous tribes settle in the area.1
August 20, 1855
U.S. Army Companies H and K establish Camp Lancaster to help defend settlements and travels in Western Texas after the Mexican War.
1855-1861
The U.S. Army experiments with camels as pack animals in the arid southwest.2
August 21, 1856
Camp Lancaster is officially designated a permanent fort.
July 9, 1857
The first camel caravan arrives at Fort Lancaster, led by Lieutenant Edward Beale. The caravan camps along Live Oak Creek and spends several days regrouping and resupplying.
1858
The fort houses approximately 150 enlisted men and 3 officers of Companies H and K.3
1859
A second camel expedition, led by Hart and Echols, passes through Fort Lancaster.
1860
Most of the original temporary structures are updated to permanent stone and adobe brick buildings.4
1861
A third camel expedition, led by Echols and Holman, passes through Fort Lancaster.
April 1861
The U.S. Army orders the evacuation of troops from Texas in advance of the Civil War.
March 19, 1861
Company K, delayed by transportation issues, finally abandon their post at Fort Lancaster.
1861-1862
Confederate troops attempt to maintain Texas forts and to defend the frontier, but by 1862 they are forced to reposition troops and Fort Lancaster is deserted.
1867
The Buffalo Soldiers' 9th Cavalry uses the fort as a sub-post of Fort Stockton.
December 26, 1867
Approximately 400 Kickapoo and Lipan Apaches attack the fort, making it the only Texas Army post to be attacked by Native Americans.
Late 1870s
The fort is abandoned for good.5
By 1912
Most of the fort is destroyed, either by fire or by nearby settlers scavenging the fort for building materials. In 1912, only a few walls, a chimney, and some foundations remain.6
1966
Excavations reveal details about the fort and the area's history.
April 16, 1968
Private landowners deed the property to Crockett County in 1968; the land is transferred to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in April.7
1971
Excavations reveal details about the fort and the area's history.
March 11, 1971
Fort Lancaster is added to the National Register of Historic Places.8
1974-1976
Excavations reveal details about the fort and the area's history.9
1993
Management of the site is transferred to the Texas Rural Communities, Incorporated, due to a budget shortfall.10
January 1, 2008
Operational control transfers from TPWD to the Texas Historical Commission.11

Location

629 Fort Lancaster Rd.
Sheffield, Texas, 79781
United States

Website

Evaluation

Once or Twice is Enough

I stopped on a whim while traveling along I-10. The drive to the fort is scenic and the ruins only take about an hour to view, making this an easy and rewarding detour on a longer journey.

Visits: 1 Visited: December 2017

Quick Statistics

Size
82 acres12
Structures
25 historic structures

Notes

  1. Unless otherwise indicated, information about the fort and fort history is from "Fort Lancaster History," THC.
  2. All information about camels at Fort Lancaster is from "Visitors from Afar," THC.
  3. Visitors Guide, THC.
  4. Visitors Guide, THC.
  5. Visitors Guide, THC.
  6. "Fort Lancaster," Wikipedia.
  7. "Fort Lancaster," Wikipedia.
  8. "Spreadsheet of NHRP Listed Properties," NPS.
  9. "Fort Lancaster," Wikipedia.
  10. "Fort Lancaster," Wikipedia.
  11. "Fort Lancaster," Wikipedia.
  12. Fort Lancaster State Historic Site, THC.

References

  • "Fort Lancaster." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. September 20, 2017. Accessed April 30, 2018. Link.
  • "Fort Lancaster History." Fort Lancaster State Historic Site. Texas Historical Commission. Accessed April 30, 2018. Link.
  • Fort Lancaster State Historic Site. Texas Historical Commission. Accessed April 30, 2018. Link.
  • "Spreadsheet of NHRP Listed Properties." National Register of Historic Places Program: Research. National Park Service. Accessed April 30, 2018. Link.
  • "Visitors from Afar – Camels at Fort Lancaster." Fort Lancaster State Historic Site. Texas Historical Commission. Accessed April 30, 2018. Link.
  • Visitor's Guide: Fort Lancaster State Historic Site. Texas Historical Commission. June 2017. Accessed April 30, 2018. Link.