Our family really enjoys combining our penchant for history with our love of r.v.ing! Physically being at a location of historical significance helps to make that event come alive! Being on the road last week, we were excited when we had the opportunity to visit one of the best preserved historical Army forts in the western United States – Fort Davis National Monument. Fort Davis is located in the aptly named town of Fort Davis, Tx. It is located in a beautiful box canyon, and with 24 restored buildings (5 of which furnished) and over 100 ruins and foundations, it was really easy to imagine what the fort may have looked like while it was garrisoned.
We started out in the visitor’s center, where we met 2 kid-friendly rangers, picked up Jr. Ranger books, watched an informative film, toured the museum, and checked out their great bookstore (the bookstore had some wonderful old-fashioned kids toys/craft kits.) Then it was off on the self-guided tour outlined in the Jr. Ranger books.
The fort was initially built and put into service in 1854. From then until 1891, it served at a military post providing protection for mail coaches, emmigrants, and prospectors on their way to the gold fields in California. The soldiers stationed at the fort spent much of their time pursuing Apache, Kiowas, and Comanche raiding parties. It was also interesting to find that after the Civil War, 4 regiments of Buffalo Soldiers were stationed here, as was the first black graduate of West Point.
One of our favorite buildings, the enlisted men’s barracks, had been restored and was open to the public. The furnishings were quite detailed even down to the ‘curtains’ that hung over the soldiers’ clothing hooks which were designed to keep the endless dust off hanging uniforms. Inside, we found a volunteer dressed in period attire to tell us all about how the soldiers lived while they were here. The boys were most interested in the Springfield Trapdoor rifle replicas, the little girls thought it was fun to try resting on a soldier’s cot. Checking out those sparsely padded cots made me appreciate the fact that I am blessed to be able to tote my own bed along with me (in the r.v.)!
This is one location that we would like to go back to and spend more time exploring!
If you may be interested in checking out southwestern Texas, you can find local r.v. park listings at Woodall’s Family Campgrounds. And if you happen to find yourself in one of those r.v. parks, especially during the summer months when the fort has numerous living history activities, be sure to check out the Fort Davis National Monument!