One doesn’t live in San Angelo, Texas, for 10 years and not learn something about the trail of forts built in the mid-1800s primarily to protect pioneers headed west. Fort Concho in San Angelo is a beautifully restored pioneer fort, and the city has built El Paseo de Santa Angela nearby as well as the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts.
Learning that other forts built in the same time period were nearby, our family decided to make a day trip and stop at some of the forts. There is something about standing on ground you know was the scene of many frontier activities that makes one want to linger and imagine what life would have been like back then.
Sharing the story of that day trip recently prompted other conversations, and as only a publisher can recount, the makings of a book were born. Publisher Mark Long did some research, and realized he already knew Margaret Hoogstra, regional coordinator of the Texas Heritage Trails program. Through Hoogstra, he met Derrick Birdsall, an amateur photographer who oversees the Farmers Branch Historical Park in the Metro area. Birdsall already enjoyed capturing photos of the sites of the bygone forts. He will team up with TSTC Publishing to help create a coffee table book focusing on the Texas Fort Trails, slated to be released in October 2012.
We are excited as we move forward on this project about the frontier forts of Texas. The government established these lonely outposts to protect settlers as they streamed west with dreams of new opportunities. In Texas, that legacy and history of the western frontier is preserved in the walls and remains of the state’s historic forts.
According to the All Across Texas site, the Texas Forts Trail is a recommended 650-mile driving loop within a 29-county region of Central West Texas. The Trail highlights a Spanish presidio and 8 historic frontier forts and the communities and attractions that surround them.
Here is a list of the forts and the towns they’re in. Click on the fort’s name to access its website.
- Fort Belknap, Graham
- Fort Chadbourne, Bronte
- Fort Concho, San Angelo
- Fort Griffin, Albany
- Fort McKavett, near Menard
- Fort Mason, Mason
- Fort Phantom Hill, Abilene
- Fort Richardson, Jacksboro
- Presidio San Luis de Las Amarillas, Menard