Saturday, August 5, 2017

Fort Davis National Historic Site

Today we left about 9:30 am from our RV Park and drove 1.5 miles up the road to Fort Davis National Historic Site, located in Fort Davis, Texas.  
At Fort Davis, Texas
This is was probably one of my favorite experiences with the children.  There was a lot of hands-on thing to do and most of the structures were open to view with information on what happened in each one.
We were lucky to have the only RV at this location, but there were quite a few cars and many visitors at the park already that early in the morning.  The temps at this time was 86 degrees so it was going to be a pretty warm day!

When we arrived, Hunter spotted a HUGE purple-flowered cactus so I snapped a photo of him.The first things we did was to check out the visitor's center and get ourselves informed by the ranger.  
We are happy to know that Coco and Chanel were able to also walk with us around the park.  That was so nice since the temperatures were rising.  
The visitor's center was also actually a museum along with a small store.  I got my book stamped and Cierra bought her coin and then returned them to the truck so we didn't have to lug them around the park.  We also found out they have a great Junior Ranger program with booklets for youngsters under age 7 and then over age 7.
Main east buildings
Visitor's Center information booth
Little shop of historic reproductions and craft items
And, this was the Junior Ranger station for the kids and a map of the fort.
Fort Davis was in use from 1854-1861 primarily to safeguard the west Texas frontier and protect citizens from the Apache, Comanche and Kiowa Indians that would raid travelers on the El Paso-San Antonio road that went right next east side of the fort. The location of the fort was nearly 1/2 way between the two locations. 
You can still see the permanent ruts in the road (looking north)
Looking south toward town
With the United States, later to be president of the confederacy.  From the spring of 1861 to summer of 1862, the fort was occupied by Confederate troops until Union soldiers took possession of it.  It was then abandoned and deserted for the next five years until the Ninth US Cavalry reoccupied it in 1867 where they added many more building and number of enlisted and officers quarters.  By 1880 the fort was a major installation with over 100 building and 400 soldiers lived there along with officers families.  By 1891, the army started to consolidate the frontier garrisons and Fort Davis was then abandoned for good. In 1963, it became a national historical site.
Web aerial view of the fort
Despite the warm weather, I thought it was very temperate.  It really wasn't that "hot" with a slight breeze I actually like the tucked away location in the Davis Mountains. The museum was very informative and have great artifacts and information on what Fort Davis was like.  I tried to get photos of all the encased items so I hope these turn out.  

We were fortunate to be there on Junior Ranger day where there were 3 men dressed up in full military wool garb of the day and also a cute gal in her prairie dress and bonnet.
The soldier on the left was really fun! The one of the right followed orders flawlessly.
Women lived on the Texas frontier at Fort Davis
Just as soon as we got there, the sergeant was having children participate in pioneer games of sack races, hoop toss, rope toss, and other fun games.  The kids were excited to participate.
The sergeant giving instructions
Cierra picked it right up.
Cierra was getting really good it ring toss!  Way to go, girl!
Ring toss. Hunter made this one!
This little girl was always bugging Hunter and Cierra.
Clothes pin in the bottle (I remember playing this at my birthday parties in the '60s).
Then, they were enlisted in the Fort Davis Army Corps and had to line up for rifle training.  They learned how to turn right on command, turn left, do an about face, raise the gun on command, hold it, fire, etc. It was very fun!!
Listening to the sergeant
Cierra was standing at attention - she took all the instructions with pride!
Following orders
Ready to about face
Resting with the rifle.
I was able to take a good number of videos and will put one here when I get it downloaded.
After the rifle training, the kids earned their junior ranger patch and a water bottle from the prairie woman.  That was a nice surprise.  But, by this time, we'd already been there an hour and so it was time to start touring the fort and finish filling in the junior ranger questions. They went to the artillery display, enlisted mens barracks, commissary, commanding officer's house, shared lieutenants quarters, hospital, chapel, guardhouse aka jail, and San Antonio-El Paso road.  

Here of some photos of the artillery display:
Buffalo Horse Soldier
Small cannon
Gatling Gun
A couple photos of the commissary
What the commissary would have looked liked.
Wagon outside the commissary
And, this is of the chapel where the court-martial of 2nd Lt. Henry O. Flipper occurred. He was the first black man to graduate from West Pint and served at Fort Davis from 1880-1881.  He was tried in a controversial court-martial and dismissed from the army in 1882.  In 1976, after reviewing his case, the Army posthumously gave him an honorable discharge and he received a full presidential pardon in 1999.  Better late than never I guess, but still how frustrating at the time!

This is the commanding officers home where he and his family lived.

I saw some pretty flowers on the center court and had to photograph them...even in a desert, there is still beauty to be had.

After this the kid ran over to the kitchen and while I took care of Coco and Chanel (they were panting profusely due to the heat and walking - I gave them water and put water on their coats to cool them off), Scott took the kids to the back part of the original fort where the kids went to the hospital.  I worked my way over to the visitor's center so the girls could lay in the shade.  But, they had to say goodbye first.
Coco loves everyone!
Coco was panting profusely!
There were also a few other brick homes on the property that I thought were very pretty.
One of a few homes at the Fort
There were ruins of about 8 of these homes
View of the Officer's homes from this red brick.
Soon, they accomplished their Junior Ranger booklets and received their badges and took their oath.
The ranger is checking their books.
Taking their oath
High 5's all around
Well, I have to say, Fort Davis was a whole lot of fun, very informative and highly educational.  I would highly recommend coming to this national historic park. The drive is lovely off I-10 to get there.  We left from El Paso and took Highway 118 to get there with very very narrows roads.  The better road is to go via Highway 17 (we took this road to get back to I-10).  From both directions there is a great boon dock stop about 5 miles from town in either direction.

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