Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fort Griffin State Historic Site

Our last stop on our recent trip was at Fort Griffin State Historic Site, located about 15 miles north of Albany, Texas. Established in 1867, the fort's main purpose was to protect settlers and trade routes in this part of the Texas frontier. The post was established on a high bluff overlooking the Clear Fort of the Brazos River. If you drive to the scenic overlook in the 506 acre park, you can clearly see why this strategic location was chosen.

In addition to its strategic location atop a prominent hill, there was also a good water supply and a reliable river crossing. Settlers and others soon gravitated to the area. Before long, a town known originally as "The Flat" was established at the base of the hill, but it later became known as Fort Griffin. The town soon became rather notorious, and catered to cattle drivers, buffalo hunters, and the men stationed at the military post. A number of well known historical figures moved through the town, including Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Pat Garrett, Dave Rudabaugh, and many others. It was, needless to say, one of the more colorful towns of the western frontier.

The post served as a major supply post during the Red River War of 1874-75, which more or less brought the Indian era in Texas to a close. Following this campaign, most native American tribes were forced to settle on reservations in Oklahoma, though a few raids did continue for a while. As a result, the Panhandle area of Texas became available for settlement.

The post was abandoned in 1881. Today, only the skeletons of a few buildings remain. A few buildings  have been restored. Start your tour at the Visitor Center, which has a few displays as well as a short video to provide some background information. Golf carts are available to visitors to tour the post, which is spread over a rather large area. Although most larger buildings were constructed of native stone, several buildings, including barracks, were constructed of wood.

Below are some photos of the post.

View of the grounds from the Visitor Center. Center of photo is the well, while a couple of barracks are visible on left. The skeletal remains of the administration building are barely visible just beyond the well on the horizon.
One of the displays in the Visitor Center
Restored mess hall. Note rock foundation.

Restored enlisted men's barracks. There were 4 rows of such barracks, and each row had its own mess hall.

Interior of an enlisted men's barracks, where as many as 4 soldiers shared accommodations. Note the fire place at end.
Skeletal remains of sutler's store.
Administration building

Exterior of bakery.
Bakery interior. Note ovens in wall.
One of the steers from the official state Longhorn herd located at the park.

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