Scenic USA - Texas

Fort McKavett State Historic Site

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Fort McKavett State Historic Site - Menard, Texas

Photo by Jason Merlo
Jason Merlo Photography

   Located on a limestone hilltop, Fort McKavett was once described as the prettiest post in Texas. Built in the mid 1800s on a natural lookout, the outpost protected West Texas settlers and thousands of California bound pioneers taking the San Antonio – El Paso Road. A nearby outcropping of limestone and native trees of pecan and oak provided building material for the garrison, designed to house 300 to 500 men.
   Clashes with Native Americans were infrequent, leading to a rather mundane military life of daily chores. Patrols and military drills were mixed in with building maintenance, moving supplies, and tending crops and livestock.
   When Fort McKavett was closed for the final time in 1883, settlers moved into the vacant buildings. Later, Fort McKavett was declared a state historic site (1968), but some of the last residents lingered until 1973. Overlooking the San Saba River, the fort occupies 80 acres near Menard. The site preserves 19 buildings, including the post headquarters, officer’s quarters, barracks and hospital. The hospital serves as a visitor center, complete with interactive displays. Today, Fort McKavett is one of the best examples of a Texas Indian Wars military post. Portions of all four African Army regiments, nicknamed Buffalo Soldiers, were stationed here. Officer’s families and women laundresses promoted culture and tempered the troop’s disciplinary problems. These Texas state historic sites illustrate real history, and give an in-depth representation of 19th century life.

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