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Fort Davis Frontier Military Post in West Texas ~ National Historic Site Images

Updated on June 21, 2016

Row of officer's housing at Fort Davis in West Texas

Row of officer's housing at Fort Davis in West Texas as viewed from a nature trail above the fort grounds.
Row of officer's housing at Fort Davis in West Texas as viewed from a nature trail above the fort grounds. | Source


West Texas


One must go back to the days of the covered wagons creaking their way across the dusty plains of West Texas with the determined and hearty souled pioneers and all of their earthly possessions packed inside for the story of this frontier military post to come into focus.

Travelers on the San Antonio - El Paso Road regularly traversed this path-ward west. But for those adventurous to see even more of the country, this same road was a portion of the Overland Trail which took pioneers all the way to California. More than 60,000 people were taking this route to California in the mid-1800's.

Stagecoaches also traveled this same path.

In addition to the normal problems of transporting people and possessions westward across a challenging environment consisting of much parched desert with the scenery of some mountains breaking the seemingly endless flat horizons, Apache and Comanche Indian raiders presented a threat to their safety. This trail crossed one of their regular paths into and out of Mexico.


Davis Mountains State Park

Park Road 3 in Davis Mountains State Park near Fort Davis, Texas
Park Road 3 in Davis Mountains State Park near Fort Davis, Texas | Source

Davis Mountains

Scene from Ranch to Market Road 1832 in the Davis Mountains in northeastern Jeff Davis County, Texas
Scene from Ranch to Market Road 1832 in the Davis Mountains in northeastern Jeff Davis County, Texas | Source

Davis Mountains


Formed over thirty-five million years ago, the Davis Mountains are volcanic in origin. The highest peak is at an elevation of 8,382 feet and many people seek this destination for camping, hiking and recreation.

My husband and I had traveled by car from Houston to see Big Bend National Park many years ago for a vacation. We had spent the night in San Antonio leaving our 4-legged "babies" with my mother who would care for them in our absence.

Driving through West Texas is an experience for the uninitiated.

Often one can drive for miles and miles without seeing another vehicle. Distances are vast. The desert scenery in this southwest region of Texas provides illusionary mirages while looking ahead on the sun heated roads. One would swear that sparkling water covers the road ahead only to find that image being pushed further off into the distance as one continues to click off the miles.

Imagine the disappointment of the pioneers who would have been seeking water in the desert!

Mirages can actually be photographed!

Mirages are caused by the bending of light rays from the cooler air above striking the warmer air closer to the ground. Often they are to be seen on hot days particularly in desert surroundings. What one is seeing is actually a view of the sky reflected on the ground off in the distance which appears lake-like.

After my husband and I enjoyed Big Bend we decided to check out Fort Davis before heading back to retrieve our pets and make it back home.



Davis Mountains near Fort Davis in West Texas

A markerDavis Mountains -
Davis Mountains, Fort Davis, TX 79734, USA
get directions

Fort Davis entrance photo

Picture of me at Fort Davis taken by my husband.
Picture of me at Fort Davis taken by my husband. | Source

Apache Indian Chief Geronimo

Apache Indian Chief Geronimo
Apache Indian Chief Geronimo | Source

Plaque at Fort Davis National Historic Site

Plaque at Fort Davis National Historic Site
Plaque at Fort Davis National Historic Site | Source

Fort Davis


This United States frontier military outpost was established on October 23, 1854.

It is one of the best preserved Southwestern military posts and the National Park Service is responsible for operating it.

Situated in a small canyon with portions of the Davis Mountains forming a dramatic backdrop, the fort faces flatter land ahead of it. Elevation is at 4,900 feet ( 1494 m ) and a nearby supply of water made this site location a prime choice in addition to it being near those well traveled trails of the pioneers.

Fourteen regiments...some infantry and others cavalry served at Fort Davis from 1854 to 1891 except for a time during the Civil War when it was temporarily abandoned. Their primary job was to escort travelers moving westward while protecting them from Indians.

Buffalo Soldiers (African American soldiers) were stationed at Fort Davis and played an integral part in maintaining peace and subduing outlaws and warring Native Americans.

The famous Apache Indian Chief Geronimo ultimately surrendered in 1886 and just a few years later the fort became decommissioned as its use was no longer deemed as necessary.

The fort was named after Jefferson Davis who at the time was the Secretary of War.

When in full operation, the fort consisted of more than fifty buildings of which there was a hospital; barracks for both the enlisted soldiers as well as officer's homes; corrals for horses; storehouses; a laundry; a sawmill; a jail and other buildings as well.

Some of the buildings have been restored both inside and out and tourists can see the structures and surrounding countryside on self-guided tours.

Slide shows can be viewed as well as exhibits of military and Indian costumes and other items of interest from that era.

In the summertime costumed interpreters lend a flavor of what life was like back in those days.


Fort Davis National Historic Site, Fort Davis, Texas

Building at Fort Davis

My husband viewing one of the buildings at Fort Davis
My husband viewing one of the buildings at Fort Davis | Source


National Historic Site

In 1963 Fort Davis National Historic Site was created and 447 acres ( 181 ha ) was set aside to preserve these adobe and stone buildings from the past.

Some of them are mere remnants but one can easily surmise the size and scope of this military fort from former days as one walks the grounds.

In 1966 this National Historic Site was dedicated by Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson.

The photo of the officer's homes furnished at the top of this hub was taken on the nature trail which led up the North Ridge. From that vantage point one can see a grand overview of the remains of Fort Davis.

Fort Davis photos

Fort Davis soldier's barracks as viewed from above on a nature trail.
Fort Davis soldier's barracks as viewed from above on a nature trail. | Source
Looking down at the Fort Davis Hospital
Looking down at the Fort Davis Hospital | Source
Fort Davis hospital
Fort Davis hospital | Source
Me at the Fort Davis hospital setting
Me at the Fort Davis hospital setting | Source

Summary

If you find yourself in West Texas near the towns of Alpine, Marfa or Fort Davis and particularly if you are a history buff, you might wish to visit the Fort Davis National Historic Site which preserves a frontier military post from the mid to late 1800's. It is one of the Texas sites well worth exploring.

Fort Davis NHS

About this author...

To read a short bio & have access to Peggy W's library of articles which include travel, recipes, gardening and more...CLICK HERE.

Is Fort Davis worth visiting? In our opinion...Yes!

5 stars for Fort Davis Frontier Military Post in West Texas

Small sample of other interesting Texas sites...

Click on the highlighted links to read more.



Comments are welcomed!

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    • Peggy W profile image
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      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello GetitScene,

      Glad you liked that part of my opening sentence. :)

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 3 years ago from The High Seas

      "One must go back to the days of the covered wagons creaking their way across the dusty plains of West Texas" so jealous I didn't come up with that opening sentence.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Suzanne,

      I seriously doubt that it has changed in appearance in many years. Glad that it brought back memories of your visit.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 4 years ago from Texas

      I went here with my cousins in the late 1970s. It looks like it hasn't changed a bit! :D Voted up and interesting!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi sweetie1,

      So glad you liked this look at the historic old buildings of Fort Davis and the West Texas scenery. Appreciate your votes and comment.

    • sweetie1 profile image

      sweetie1 4 years ago from India

      Very nicely written hub. Beautiful pictures. voted up and awesome

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rajan,

      Looking at the historical buildings of Fort Davis takes one back in time to the pioneers crossing America in covered wagons. Quite the dramatic setting! Glad that you enjoyed learning about it. Appreciate your votes and the share.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Enjoyed this trip to Fort Davis with some beautiful photos and glad to learn a bot about its background. Thanks for sharing, Pggy.

      Voted up, beautiful and shared.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Becky,

      It must have been a temporary glitch on Alastar's end that he could not see these Fort Davis photos. That fort played an important role in history during the migration west. Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Alastar,

      Glad that you could see the photos of Fort Davis. Thanks for your comment.

    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      I loved this hub, so interesting. The pictures were fine here so it must be Alastar's.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

      They're fine and colorful now!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Alastar,

      All the photos are just where they should be with regard to this Fort Davis hub. It must be some kind of a problem with uploading on your end. Sorry! Wish you could see them!

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Really want share this great look at the old west frontier post of Fort Davis but the pics wouldn't upload- check and see how they are on your end Peggy.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Glad to be a tour guide to you Billy. :)) West Texas certainly has its attractions!

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 5 years ago

      Peggy thanks for updating me on the Fort Davis history and historic sites - never ceases to amaze me how much I keep learning about the great state of Texas through your writings.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Dim,

      If you liked seeing Fort Davis in West Texas, there is so much more to the State of Texas that you would also enjoy seeing. Hope your wish comes true someday. Thanks for your comment.

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 6 years ago from Great Britain

      What a wonderful chunk of History you covered, whilee showing us the modern day terrain.

      I have always wanted to go to Texas, so I thank you for taking me there.

      take care,

      Dim x

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Hello, hello,

      So glad to be able to show you frontier miliary posts like Fort Davis in West Texas. It goes back to an earlier day and age in the United States. Thanks for your comment.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you, Peggy, for such a wonderful tour and, especially for me on the other site, very interesting/

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Om,

      I can see where Fort Davis and the Davis mountains would remind you of the movie. So many movies like that were filmed in the West. Thanks for your ratings and comment.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

      What an awesome historic site. I really like the first photo. It kind of reminds me of the movie, True Grit. hehehe....Rated up and awesome. :)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Cheryl,

      Had we not gone to Big Bend National Park, we probably never would have seen Fort Davis which turned out to be very interesting and historic. Will be working on a Big Bend hub soon. Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Eiddwen,

      Nice to know that you found this Fort Davis hub of such interest. Always nice to hear from you and I look forward to reading one of your latest hubs. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Cheryl J. 6 years ago

      Great job. Very informative history and photos and videos of Fort Davis Frontier Military Post. A very nice dedication of the National Historic Site by Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson. A great piece of history. Awesome hub.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Wow how interesting is this one Peggy:

      Answer; Brilliant and here's to many more to share.I vote up as always.

      Take care my friend.

      Eiddwen.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi agusfanani,

      So glad that you enjoyed this hub about Fort Davis and its history in West Texas. Thanks for the compliment on my writing style. I keep learning from other hubbers as well!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Happyboomernurse,

      The distances are indeed vast and seemingly endless when traveling through West Texas. While most of these photos showed the more mountainous scenery, one can easily see by looking at the Google Map that most of it is flat and most of that flat land is desert. Glad that I could show you the remains of Fort Davis. It looks like the officers had really good quarters! Thanks for your comment.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 6 years ago from Indonesia

      You've written this hub in an excellent narrative story that, like the other hubs, I enjoy reading it. So reading your hub not only will I get good story but also lessons how to present hubs interestingly. Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience Peggy W.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Thoroughly enjoyed this hub and the trip through West Texas and Fort Davis. Thanks so much for sharing your personal photos which made me feel as though I was right along with you on this long drive.

      Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello moonlake,

      Glad that this hub about the Fort Davis military post could bring back happy memories of your wedding in El Paso and your time spent in Texas. Thanks for your comment.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 6 years ago from America

      Love this hub. We were married in El Paso still miss Texas.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Prasetio,

      Hope you make it to Texas someday. If you come to Houston, contact me and I'll happily show you around. Glad you enjoyed this hub about Fort Davis. Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Alastar Packer,

      You are correct in saying that Texas is a mighty big place. Will do a hub on Big Bend soon. Just got some old slides converted to a DVD. Too bad about your inherited land going to others. As you say...hope it made them happy. Thanks for your comment.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I love this hub and all the pictures of National Historic Site. I have a dream to travel in TEXAS. Well done, Peggy. I always all your hubs. Vote up!

      Love and peace,

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Texas is a mighty big place. Thanks for this look at Fort Davis. Love the history. Big Bend's got it in spades. Peggy I once was left 300 hundred acres in the county next to El Paso's as the deceased had been paying taxes on it. However, when the non paying title holders found out they got a lawyer and wanted those mineral rights so bad. It was right up against the Rio Grande, hope they're happy. At any rate looking forward to the next.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi dahoglund,

      There is actually lots of flat desert-like land in West Texas except for when one approaches these mountains and others within the State. Happy to have provided you a glimpse of this area and thanks for commenting.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Gene,

      Enjoy your trip to the Davis Mountains! Drop us a line about your trip after you stay there again. Would love to hear about it. Thanks for leaving a comment on this hub. :))

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Deborah-Diane,

      If you like visiting historic sites dating back to the Civil War era, you will enjoy viewing Fort Davis in West Texas. There are other places in that part of the State worth visiting also. Will be writing about our trip to Big Bend National Park in the future. Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello applecsmith,

      Not surprising that you have not seen Fort Davis in West Texas. The state is so large that one could spend a lifetime exploring all the sites within this 2nd largest state in the Union. One has to pick and choose and since we were within the general vicinity, we got to see this historic site. Thanks for your comment. Hope you get to traverse the entire state. Write about it if you do!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I used to work with a guy from El Paso, so it is sort of interesting to get a glimpse of the area he came from.I heard he retired to New Mexico though.Your pictures give a good idea of the landscape.Voted across except for funny.

    • profile image

      Gene Jasper 6 years ago

      Peggy, Charlotte and I are on way to the Davis Mountains in about two weeks. this will be our second trip and we stay at the Indian Lodge in Davis Mountains State Park wonderful atmosphere and very relaxing. Glad to hear you like the area also.

      Gene

    • Deborah-Diane profile image

      Deborah-Diane 6 years ago from Orange County, California

      We travel to Texas frequently. We'll have to take a side trip and enjoy these sites!

    • applecsmith profile image

      Carrie Smith 6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Wow, this is a fabulous hub. I have lived in Texas my whole life and didn't know that this (or the other places featured) existed. I've driven to West Texas and to El Paso, but somehow I missed this historic location. It is much like you described, with being somewhat barren and cars are few and far between. This makes me want to take a road trip all over the state.

      Thank you so much for sharing. The photos you posted are beautiful as well. Voted up and awesome!