Texas Forts Trail Region

We share the real stories of what was once the Texas frontier and offer tips on the fun things to see and do today in Central West Texas.

Non-profit organization with offices in Abilene, Texas, dedicated to education, heritage tourism and historic preservation. We serve a 29-county area in Central West Texas. One of the ten regions that comprise the award-winning and nationally-recognized Texas Heritage Trails Program of the Texas Historical Commission.

From "Old Yeller" to "Lonesome Dove," many western classics, movies and books have their roots in our part of Texas. Our FB Page is dedicated to sharing the real stories of the real people who interacted with this part of Texas - from Jacksboro west to Aspermont, south to Sweetwater, Abilene, San Angelo and El Dorado, east to Mason, and San Saba and then back north to Comanche and Mineral Wells.

This was the frontier before and after the Civil War. Our region is home to the remains of eight historic forts and a Spanish presidio: Fort Richardson, Fort Belknap, Fort Griffin, Fort Phantom Hill, Fort Chadbourne, Fort Concho, Fort McKavett, Fort Mason and the Presidio de San Saba. The history of this region had profound effects not only on Texas, but on our country.

We're proud to share information about special events, museum exhibits, rodeos, festivals, cook-offs and other activities that are open to the general - and, hopefully, traveling - public.

We believe in being "Texas Friendly" and ask that our fans mind their manners on our page. Please be respectful to others, no politics, no cussin', no being rude or obnoxious.

I'm Margaret Hoogstra, the executive director of the Texas Forts Trail, and the sole administrator of our FB page. I've lived in Mineral Wells, Stephenville and the Abilene area for most of my life - all communities within the Forts Trail Region! I have a passion for history, a love of travel and a respect for those who serve in the Armed Forces. I think you find the "real" Texas in our rural communities.

Mission: . . . to increase heritage tourism to the Texas Forts Trail Region by: making people aware of the region and its attractions; educating people about the role of forts in the development of Texas; fostering historic preservation in the region; helping improve sites to be visited in the region; and helping develop local/regional heritage tourism leadership.

It’s been a long way from “check mail” notifications! #VisitBrownwood #LehnisRRMuseum #TexasFortsTrail

Did you know that in 1886 the Brownwood Post Office received its first bags of mail transported by train? The mail was placed in pouches or canvas bags and shipped down the Colorado, Gulf, and Santa Fe rails known as the Brownwood-Lampasas line to be distributed to Brown County residents.

Get your tickets now - it's a "classic"! #SanAngelove #TexasFortsTrail

Ready for a time warp? Join us for the cult phenomenon Rocky Horror Picture Show!! Goodie bags, raffle tickets, and more... on October 19th and 20th.
Visit our website for more information. http://angelocivictheatre.org/

Texas Forts Trail Region's cover photo

Don’t forget about the Crazy Water Festival this weekend in Mineral Wells! This is definitely a crazy fun event you won’t want to miss !

What could be more fun than funnel cakes, corny dogs, a Ferris Wheel and shopping? How about great live music and Crazy Beer?!? Friday night and all day Saturday in Mineral Wells, TX. RAIN OR SHINE...See ya there!

We are wrapping up our 50th anniversary Texas Forts Trail caravan at Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap. Buffalo Gap's history is entrenched with buffalos. Buffalo’s were known to roam this land all the way to the high plains. In fact, Elm Creek that passes through Buffalo Gap, had served as a watering Hole for the Buffalo. Perini Ranch Steakhouse was opened in 1983 by Tom Perini. According to Texas Monthly, Perini Ranch Steakhouse is the "3rd best steakhouse in Texas", so if you are in the mood for a good steak or the best chuck wagon style food in America, this is your place. We would like to thank everyone so much for following our journey though the Texas Forts Trail, hopefully you learned something, and found an interesting place to visit!

Fort Chandbourne was established October 28,1852, and was named for the 2nd Lt. of the fort, Lt. T.L. Chadbourne, who was killed in the Battle of Resaca de la Palma. The fort was a defense for a station on the Butterfield Overland Mail route from 1858 to 1861. Under the supervision of professional archeologists, volunteers and Foundation staff have stabilized all existing ruins and restored a number of military structures over the past decade, including an officer’s quarters and the Butterfield Stage Station.


CATTLE by Berta Harte Nance (1883-1958)

Poet Berta Hart Nance was born near Albany, TX, on this day in 1883. One of her most well-known works is the beginning of the poem "Cattle": "Other states were carved or born, Texas grew from hide and horn." To read the entire poem follow the link below.
#TexasFortsTrail #OnThisDay

blog.cowboypoetry.com photo by Dorothea Lange, The Library of Congress   CATTLE by Berta Harte Nance (1883-1958) Other states were carved or born Texas grew from hide and horn. Other states are long and wide, Texas…

On the banks of the Concho River in San Angelo stands Fort Concho, which is our final stop for the day! Established in 1867, Fort Concho was built to protect the frontier settlements of West Texas. At its peak, Fort Concho had at least 40 buildings spanning at least 1600 acres and housing 400-500 men. Notable military commanders including Ranald Mackenzie, Benjamin Grierson, and William 'Pecos Bill' Shafter all commanded here, as well as elements from all four regiments of the Buffalo Soldiers. Fort Concho was active for nearly 22 years, until June of 1889. Today, there are 23 original and restored buildings to explore.

Located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, Fort McKavett was used from 1850-1875 as a military post during the Texas Indian wars. At Fort McKavett you can see the ruins of several original buildings, as well as several restored buildings. The barracks on the north side were once the longest building west of the Mississippi River! General William T. Sherman once described Fort McKavett as the “prettiest post in Texas.” It is certainly a sight to behold!

Menard, which was once called Menardville was laid out in 1858 after the legislature approved the establishment of Menard County. In its earlier years, this Spanish settlement at the presidio was abandoned in 1758 but the site was used as a camp by the Indians. Menard was named after Michael Branaman Menard, who signed the Texas Declaration of Independance, founded Galveston, and participated in Texas Congress. Texas Hill Country is known for having amazing views, and Menard holds true to this with their amazing views of the San Saba River. Popular sites are Presidio de San Luis de las Amarillas, and the Menardville Museum.

Mason, Texas is an extremely agriculturally based town located on Comanche Creek. The first setter of Mason was thought to have been Peter S. Parker in 1846. The settlement of Mason grew up around Fort Mason, which was established by the US War Department. Mason was a popular Indian campsite. The oldest church in Mason is the Lutheran church organized on February 15, 1872, by Rev. H. Huber. The Mason town square is considered one of the five most beautiful town squares in Texas, so you should go check it out! Other popular sites include the Seaquist House, Mason Square Museum, and Texas Deadwood BBQ.

In the 1870’s Brady was settled and named Brady City after the creek that runs through town, Brady Creek. The Spanish explorer, Jose Mares, passed through the creek in 1787-88. In 1906 the name was shortened to Brady when the town was incorporated. Brady refers to itself as “The Heart of Texas” because it is near the center of Texas. Today, some places you can come visit are Champion Ranch, Riddles Pecan Shoppe and McCulloch County Museum.

[10/05/18]   The first marriage license issued in Young County was on this day in 1856 (October 5th) to William M. Dobbs and Elizabeth Johnson.
#OnThisDay #TexasFortsTrail #YoungCounty

Our final stop for today is Brownwood! During WWII Brownwood was the location of U.S. Army Camp Bowie, which had over 80,000 soldiers. Today some popular things to do in Brownwood include going to Lake Brownwood, and visiting museums such as the Martin & Frances Lehnis Railroad Museum and Brown County Museum of History. Stay tuned with us tomorrow as we continue our journey celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Texas Forts Trail!

We are here at the Ranger Hill Rest Stop for a quick break from the road, and this stop is getting drivers pumped up! This rest stop contains the standard things you typically find at rest stops such as rest rooms, vending machines and a nice spot to stretch the legs, but it also has more than that. This state-of-the-art stop has interpretive displays, restored Ford Model Ts, a shaded playground area, covered picnic tables and storm shelters. Oh, and speaking of Ranger, the city of Ranger actually got its name from the Texas Rangers who in the 1870s had a camp in a valley about two miles northeast of Ranger on a prong of Palo Pinto Creek.

Mineral Wells is a beautiful town in Palo Pinto and Parker county. It became famous for its medicinal qualities and is named for the mineral springs in the area. In 1885 the town became a well known health resort when the crazy well was built. Crazy Well was said to cure numerous disorders including hysteria and other mental problems. It was bottled and shipped throughout the country! Today, Mineral Wells host a variety of hauntings and ghost tours including the Baker Hotel, the Crazy Water Hotel, close by the Whispering Cottage built in 1926.

Our next stop is Fort Richardson! Fort Richardson is located in Jacksboro, Texas. The first settlers of Jacksboro arrived in the mid 1850s. Jacksboro is named after William H. Jack, and his brother Patrick. In 1868 Fort Richardson was established to provide protection against the Comanche and Kiowa Indians, and it got its name from Union general Israel Bush Richardson. Popular sites to see are Fort Richardson Springs, Connected Cactus, Cincy’s NY Deli, Restaurant & Baking and Fort Richardson State Park. In 1963 Fort Richardson was declared a state historical site, and since then, renovations have been made, and visitors can tour 7 restored original buildings, including the post hospital, officers' quarters, powder magazine, morgue, commissary, guardhouse, and bakery.

Cannon firing at Fort Belknap!

On June 24, 1851, Fort Belknap was founded as a northern anchor on the Texas frontier line of defense from the Red River to the Rio Grande.The fort functioned as a base of operations rather than as a fortified point, and it became the center of a substantial network of roads, including the Butterfield Overland Mail. The fort was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960, in recognition of its key role in securing the Texas frontier in the 1850s and 1860s Today, Fort Belknap is a popular site for group gatherings.

Our next destination for today is Fort Griffin. Fort Griffin's mission was to protect the frontier and to monitor the nearby Comanche Indian reservation. The campgrounds are located on the banks of the Clear Fork of the Brazos River. Today, it provides visitors with an opportunity to relax under large shade trees, enjoy the playground, catch catfish in the river, or hike nature trails connected to the campground.

On our way to our next stop we are passing through Albany! Albany is home to the Old Jail Foundation Art Center opened in 1980. The museum houses a collection of Chinese tomb figures dating from the third century B.C., a collection of pre-Columbian art, and nineteenth and twentieth century painting and sculpture, including works by Henry Moore, Aristide Maillol, Pablo Picasso, Amadeo Modigliani, Giacomo Manzu, John Marin, and others. Before it was a museum it was a jail that housed several outlaws such as John Selman who escaped from the place. A popular attraction in Albany is the Fort griffin Fandangle, which has been taking place since 1938. It is Texas’ oldest outdoor musical and is presented during the last 2 weekends of June every year.

Our second stop for the day is Fort Phantom Hill! If you aren't able to come along on the caravan with us, Fort Phantom Hill is located only 14 miles from Frontier Texas, so you will have to come check it out some time! It is a stop that is worth experiencing. Fort Phantom was one of the second line forts laid out in the early 1850's, and is known for having peaceful encounters with the Indians. A lot of people don't know that it is on private land, however the owners have improved it and made it available to the public. A fun fact for you about this location is that on one side it looks like a hill, but on the other 3 sides it does not!

On this day in 1941, Harman Training Center at Ballinger opened as a primary pilot training airfield for the U.S. Army Air Corps.
#OnThisDay #WWII #BallingerTX

Today we are kicking off the 50th anniversary of the Texas Forts Trail caravan! You can see coverage of our stops now through Saturday on any of our social media and learn some more about the history of the Texas Forts Trail region! Our first stop and official starting point is Abilene! We will be kicking off at Frontier Texas! Abilene, which was once inhibited by Indians in 1870, is well known for its history in oil drillings, which expanded significantly after World War II. Popular sights to see are Frontier Texas, Kirby Lake, Jacob’s Dream, Grace Hotel Museum, and Fort Phantom Hill. On top of this, Abilene is the home of three universities: Hardin Simmons University, Abilene Christian University, and McMurray University. Hardin Simmons is the oldest university in Abilene, and it was founded in 1891. Hardin Simmons is named after an early contributor, James B. Simmons, and other major contributors, Mary and John G. Hardin.

Thanks for mentioning us; we are so excited!

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Texas Heritage Trail Regions at the Texas Forts Trail Region Caravan October 4-6.

Guests will receive a guided tour of eight historic forts, the largest Spanish fort built in Texas, the communities of Abilene, Brownwood, and San Angelo, and much more.

Secure your spot: bit.ly/2O4A5Ju

Photo of our Fort McKavett State Historic Site. Standing atop a windswept remote hill, the remains of this 150-year-old West Texas fort beckon curious visitors to the site that is now considered one of the best preserved and most intact examples of a Texas Indian Wars (1850–1875) military post.

Take in the spectacular Hill Country vistas and experience the history of early West Texas life through the real stories of the infantrymen, Buffalo Soldiers, women, and children who lived at what Gen. William T. Sherman once described as "the prettiest post in Texas."

[10/03/18]   On this day in 1918, In response to World War I, the Mason County Council of Defense passed a resolution to abandon the use of the German language in the county. Settled mainly by German immigrants, Germans were 70-80% of the county’s foreign-born residents.
#OnThisDay #MasonTX #TexasFortsTrail

Visit Brownwood, Texas

It's nearly time for Corks & Caps in Brownwood and tickets are available online!

Tickets available online for Corks & Caps this Saturday from 6pm - 11pm.

Corks and Caps will feature flights of beer from Red Gap Brewing Company and wine tastings from Blue Duck Winery, Brennan Vineyards, Rancho Loma Vineyards, and Spirit of Texas Winery! A variety of food trucks will also be on hand offering food and desserts for purchase. A cigar area will be a featured component during this event hosted by The Leaf from Abilene. Attendees can relax and enjoy these great tastes with live music by The Wonders. #VisitBrownwood

West Texas Historical Association

Albany, TX ~ 1950s

Murder at Fort Concho? Who did it? The first 25 people who purchase tickets for either night of Murder at Fort Concho (October 19 & 20) will receive a free flashlight! Tickets are available in the Visitor Center at Barracks 1, or call 325-657-4444 to purchase them! #FortConcho #TexasFortsTrail #SanAngelo

We are giving away Murder at Fort Concho flashlights to the first 25 people who purchase tickets for either night of Murder at Fort Concho (October 19 & 20). Tickets are available in the Visitor Center at Barracks 1, or call 325-657-4444 to purchase them over the phone. Limit 1 flashlight per customer.
Murder at Fort Concho flashlights will be available for purchase in the Fort’s Gift Shop for $3.99. Quantities are limited.

Don't forget about the Chicken Farm Art Center's "Concert in the Yard Finale" on October 5th from 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm. They will have a variety of pickers and local artists. Food will be available for purchase and as always you are welcome to BYO picnic basket and/or lawn chair to enjoy the evening. Such a neat event! Head on out to San Angelo and have a fun evening!
#TexasFortsTrails #VisitSanAngelo #ChickenFarmArtCenter

On this day in 1942, close to 210 POWs who were members of the " Lost Battalion” began their transfer by ship and train to Burma. This Battalion was stationed in the Pacific and most of the men making up this battalion were from West Texas - most notably from Jacksboro. In Burma, the Texans and other POWs were forced to work on the Japanese “Railroad of Death.” Some of their work and conditions were the basis for the movie “Bridge over the River Kwai.”
#WWII #TexasFortsTrail #POW

The Forts Trail Caravan will be here this Friday!

Brady is proud to call itself “The True Heart of Texas,” because of its proximity to the geographical center of Texas.

Established halfway between Fort Mason and Fort Griffin, Brady’s secure location along a frontier military road proved fortuitous. When rail service arrived around 1900, the town quickly became a cattle-shipping point.

The same year, the now-restored Romanesque-style McCulloch County Courthouse was built, and a decade later, Brady’s town square added a new county jail, which now houses the Heart of Texas Historical Museum’s extensive collection of artifacts.

The museum includes information on Brady’s World War II prisoner of war camp and Curtis Field, a World War II flight training facility. At the Heart of Texas Country Music Museum you can take a journey that traces the history of the entire industry.

Experience the vastness and wonder of the Lone Star State: http://texastimetravel.com/get-guides

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Forts Trail 50th Anniversary Caravan




3702 Loop 322
Abilene, TX

General information

The "trail" refers to a 650-mile driving loop through Central West Texas that is anchored by eight frontier forts and a Spanish presidio. The "region" is a geographically defined area of 29 counties. Please visit the "About Us" section of our website (http://texasfortstrail.com/about) to learn more about our organization, our history and what we do.
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