Fort Griffin State Historic Site was a Cavalry fort established in the late 1860s in the northern part of West Texas, specifically northwestern Shackelford County, to give settlers protection from early Comanche and Kiowa raids. It was named for Charles Griffin, a former Civil War Union general who had commanded the Department of Texas during the early years of Reconstruction.
The fort was officially opened in 1867, and served as a step-off point for many expeditions headed westward, and for a time it had a substantial settled community that built up around it, catering to passing wagon trains and military personnel that sought saloons for recreation on their down time. It is northeast of Abilene, the seat of Taylor County.
By 1870, a very rough town called "The Flat" sprang up just north of Fort Griffin, which eventually became a stop off point for cattle drives headed north to Dodge City, Kansas. During that time, several notable characters and gunfighters of the Old West drifted through, including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Dave Rudabaugh, and the brothers Bat and Jim Masterson. John Selman, who eventually became known for killing outlaw John Wesley Hardin, worked there and in the surrounding county as a deputy sheriff. Following the Red River War of 1874, the Comanche and Kiowa threat on the prairies waned, and Fort Griffin was eventually closed. There are still remnants of the fort. The fort was also the beginning of the Mackenzie Trail, which stretched across West Texas to Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
During the last two weekends of June, the Fort Griffin Fandangle, a western musical production, is presented by residents of Albany in the Prairie Theater. The program, the content of which is changed each year, began in 1938 and is billed as "Texas' Oldest Outdoor Musical". In addition, a portion of the official state herd of Texas longhorns is maintained at Fort Griffin.
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Fort Griffin State Historic Site website
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