Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day Trip: Fort Chadbourne

Fort Chadbourne had been on my bucket list for quite some time. Now that things had settled down a bit and we had some free time, Donna and I made the short drive to view the old fort earlier this week.

Fort Chadbourne is located along US 277 about halfway between Abilene and San Angelo. It is about 2 miles north of the US 277/Texas 70 split. It's hard to miss because a big spur marks the entrance to this treasure of Texas history, which was established in 1852. I won't bore you with the history of the fort, as I cannot relate it's history better than the website does. For more history, go to

Drive through the spur to get to the fort
Upon entering the Visitor Center, we were greeted by Ann Pate, a walking encyclopedia of the fort. And well-versed she should be as she is the author of Fort Chadbourne: A Military Post, A Family Heritage. She promptly escorted us into the Visitor Center Theater where we watched the Emmy award winning film The Lost Fort narrated by Barry Corbin. The film is well-done and helps bring Fort Chadbourne to life for the remainder of the tour.

Seating options for the theater.
After exiting the theater, we toured the exhibits in the Visitor Center. Many of the items were actually found on the grounds of the post, but many were also donated to the Fort Chadbourne Foundation. It is worth noting that the fort is a labor of love. No government funds have been used to restore the old post; instead, private donations and volunteer labor are responsible for all restoration work. Even entrance to the post is free, but a donation of $8 per person is suggested.

The exhibit area is dominated by an antique firearm display. If you like guns, this is the place for you. But there are other items of interest as well. The refurnished bar is a thing of beauty and should not be missed.

We then left the Visitor Center and Ms. Pate drove us around the post compound, stopping at the various buildings, including the unrestored hospital ruins, restored officer's quarters, restored double officer's quarters, and the Butterfield Stage Station, the only restored such stage station in Texas.

Ruins of the post hospital

Restored officer's quarters contains 2 rooms. Walls in the front room are covered in graffiti, mostly from soldiers stationed there during the 1850s and 1860s.

The double officer's quarters contain living space on either side of the dog run. Each living area contains 2 rooms.

In addition to being used as a root cellar by both the military and the private owners of the ranch, this building also served as a post office for several years. It is located directly behind the double officer's quarters.

The Butterfield Stage Station contains numerous items, such as buggies and this old three-seat stagecoach.

Enlisted men's barracks. The barracks on the left (west) have been left as found as a point of comparison for the restored barracks on the right (east). The roof of the Visitor Center is visible in the left background.
I snapped numerous other pictures on our trip, including several of the interiors of the officer's quarters as well as various pictures of the displays in the Visitor Center. However, the Fort Chadbourne website is quite well done, and it's pictures are far superior to mine, so I encourage you to visit their spot on the web. I especially like the "before and after" pictures of the post buildings. You can also visit their Facebook page at

If you find yourself in this part of West Texas during your travels, stop in and visit the past for a couple of hours.

1 comment:

  1. We appreciate your nice compliment of our site - Fort Chadbourne and welcome you back anytime for a return visit!