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The little town of Fort Davis, nestled within the beautiful Davis Mountains
of West Texas, is often referred to as the Mile-High Town and just as frequently
is compared to another well-known town, Denver, which has a similar altitude.
Fort Davis is the highest town in the state.
This community traces its beginnings to 1854 when then Secretary of War
Jefferson Davis ordered the establishment of a Federal military post in
these wild mountain vastness, then known as the Apache Mountains, to protect
the growing immigrant traffic headed west to the California gold fields.
Seven years later Civil War brought an end to this occupation. In 1867
however, the Fort was reestablished and over the next 24 years was rebuilt
and grew into one of the major Federal outposts. Soldiers from this fort,
largely the 9th and 10th Cavalry and 24th and 25th Infantry regiments which
were made up of the famed Buffalo soldiers recruited from the freed slaves
or freedmen following the war, were the effective fighting forces that
put an end to the continuing Indian depredations. The Fort was closed in
Today, Fort Davis can boast what is considered the finest restored western
cavalry post in the United States. The Fort Davis National Historic Site
is open everyday, seven days a week from 8-5 in the winter and 8-6 during
This begins what a visitor can enjoy in Fort Davis. The town has numerous
places to stay including a historic hotel, motels, bed and breakfasts,
an RV park with camp grounds, restaurants and several very nice gift shops.
Nearby is the Davis Mountains State Park with both accommodations and a
restaurant. Just up the road is the well-known Prude Ranch, a longtime
landmark as a dude ranch.
Beyond all this is the magnificent Scenic Loop that circles 75 miles through
the Davis Mountains and includes on its route the McDonald Observatory.
This is one of the great astronomy sites in the United States. In January
a new 432 inch telescope was opened for visitation. It is the largest in
the world open to the public and compare with a similar one located in
Hawaii. There are also two other "smaller", 107"and 80", telescopes open
to visitors. Three times weekly there are nighttime viewing opportunities
where trained astronomers, aided by lesser telescopes, can help you view
the heavenly bodies.
Fort Davis is the gateway to the spectacular Big Bend country, which lies
south and southeast. This is the wonderland of Texas, and anyone visiting
it should be sure to experience Fort Davis.
CHIHUAHUAN DESERT VISITOR CENTER
DAVIS MOUNTAINS STATE PARK
FORT DAVIS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
HISTORIC INN: Limpia Hotel
OVERLAND TRAIL MUSEUM
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS MCDONALD OBSERVATORY AT MOUNT
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CHIHUAHUAN DESERT VISITOR CENTER - Botanic
gardens, and nature trails related to the desert flora. On Texas 1228,
3.5 miles south
DAVIS MOUNTAINS STATE PARK - In a sloping
basin among scenic Davis Mountain, 2,869 acres host more than 155,000 visitors
annually. Primary service facility is multilevel hotel called the Indian
Lodge, patterned in the pueblo style. A free interpretive center is open
afternoons, June through August featuring plant and animal material, both
live and mounted; bird observation window and wildlife watering station.
Camping, picnicking, dining room, trailer facilities, rest rooms, nature
study, hiking. Six miles west of Fort Davis; Texas 118 Park Road 3. Admission
FORT DAVIS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE - When
pioneers and gold seekers surged west in the mid-1800s, national concern
focused on secure travel routes. In Texas, nearly 600 miles of wilderness
stretched between San Antonio and El Paso. Throughout the distance, wagon
travelers fell prey to fiercely hostile Indians. Fort Davis, established
in 2854, was the first military post to guard the route and offer haven
by the precious waters of Limpia Creek.
But the trauma of Civil War stripped the frontier of military protection,
and the Indians again marauded unchecked. Little of value remained when
federal troops returned to Fort Davis in 1q867. New construction eventually
produced substantial rock and adobe e buildings that housed up to 12 companies
of cavalry and infantry. Post-war troopers were black "buffalo soldiers,"
many of them former slaves from Southern plantations.
As the western movement resumed, troopers patrolled the long immigrant
road, escorted mail and wagon trains, and mounted wide-ranging expeditions
into the vast wilderness territory. After years of conflict, peace and
civilian settlement finally came to the frontier. With the bluecoats no
longer needed, Fort Davis was deactivated in 1891.
Operated by the National Park Service, Fort Davis today is a superb
example of frontier forts from that epic era, including both ruins and
restorations. A museum, open daily in reconstructed barracks, vividly interprets
frontier military life.
Another feature is a sound re-creation of a 19th Century military parade
- bugles and hoofbeats...the clank and jangle of mounted troops...music
from ban manuals of 1875. Echoing over the empty parade ground, it is a
haunting fragment of the past.
HISTORIC INN: Limpia Hotel - Restored
country inn, c. 1912, sturdy, turn-of-the-century oak furniture, second
story verandah and glassed in sunporch with rattan rockers; Boarding House
restaurant. Two suites and nine rooms with baths.
NEIL MUSEUM - Antique toys made in Texas, 300
antique dolls, bottles, and furniture. In historic 1898 Truehart House
seven blocks west of the courthouse. Also two rooms bed-and-breakfast with
antique furniture; year round.
OVERLAND TRAIL MUSEUM - Named for historic
trail that once passed its front door, small museum was former home, office
and shop of Nick Mersfleter, early resident who was the justice of the
peace, barber, and area music master. Austrian-born Mersfelter could play
almost any instrument, was once member of the San Antonio Philharmonic
Orchestra. Pioneer ranch, trail, and law enforcement artifacts.
SCENIC DRIVE - A 74 mile loop through the Davis
Mountains (from and back to Fort Davis) leads to a host of choice mountain
landscapes. Two miles south on Texas 17 take Texas 166 west to intersection
with Texas 118, then southeast back to Texas 17 and Fort Davis. Features
include nine scenic roadside parks, Mount Locke topped by McDonald Observatory,
beautiful Madera Canyon, and Davis Mountains State Park.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS MCDONALD OBSERVATORY AT MOUNT
LOCKE - Built in 1932 following bequest from William j. McDonald, amateur
astronomer. On 6,791 foot peak of Mount Locke. Site selected because of
clear air, high ration of cloudless nights, distance from concentrations
of artificial lights, and dust and radiation filtering growths of shrubs
and timber. Original instrument was 82 inch reflector; 107 inch reflector
is in larger dome.
A visitor center at the foot of Mount Locke presents programs daily
form 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Each Tues., and Friday and Saturday evening, weather permitting, the
center conducts "Star Parties' for the general public, with viewing of
stars and planets through telescopes set up by the observatory. Observatory
is 16 miles northwest via Texas 118, Spur 78. Spectacular view from site.
Once a month, visitors can view celestial objects through 107 inch telescope
by making reservations with the visitors center. (Very popular and sometimes
booked months in advance. ) Fee is charged for large telescope viewing.
This file was last modified Thursday, 12-Oct-95 01:37:00