Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fort Griffin: A New Map of Texas Frontier History

The history of the Texas frontier forts, as well as those in New Mexico and Indian Territory is fascinating. I have been collecting maps, views and descriptions of these places for many years. I have also visited a number of the surviving posts, many of them several times. These are special places.  If you stand quietly on the parade ground of remote posts like Fort Richardson, Fort Belknap, Fort McKavett or Fort Lancaster, you can feel what it must have been like in the raw times from the 1850's to the 1870's out there.

Fort Griffin on US Highway 283 north of Albany is one of those places. The Fort is on a bluff overlooking the Clear Fork of the Brazos River and the important but nasty little town of Fort Griffin on the flats below it.

Fort Griffin was originally a barrier Fort set right out in the Comancheria in 1867 after the Civil War.   To the north is old Camp Cooper and the ill-fated Clear Fork Comanche reservation site.  The Butterfield Overland Stage ran nearby on its way west.  And the great Western Cattle Trail poured millions of longhorns through the area on the way to Dodge City. That's just part of the story of this old place.  There is so much history between Albany and Throckmorton, it's hard to imagine or visualize.

Now there's a fine map that captures a lot of it.  On a recent business trip to Fort Griffin, Jan Lenoir at the Visitor Center showed me a map that she had drawn as a handout to visitors. Just a simple 8-1/2 by 11 sheet run off on the office color inkjet printer, it covers everything with clarity, simplicity and detail.

Not only is this a good map for the present, but in my opinion it is a map that will be valuable as an historic record and reference in the future.  It certainly has a place in my files on Fort Griffin and the Texas frontier forts.

Fort Griffin on Facebook.

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