Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ft. Davis Trip

We recently went to Fort Davis as a family. It was great! We left Midland around 9:15 am and got into Ft. Davis before lunch. It was a quick trip, less than 175 miles if you go through Balmoreah on 17. I had never seen the Fort and was interested in seeing it and some of the town. We first went to lunch (my youngest son T.K. wouldn't have it any other way) and ate at the drugstore in town - The Old Texas Inn. It is an unique place. It has an old soda fountain and rooms upstairs. Each room has no phone or TV, although they do have a sitting room with a big screen TV, old school style that T.K. didn't recognize. I had to tell him what it was a TV. Lunch was good, mostly burgers, BBQ and comfort food. I did get a salad that was huge, they called it the "Wagon Wheel". The price was reasonable as well. For six of us the bill was just over $44.00. After lunch we drove around the town and got a feel for the houses and the neighborhood, we liked what we saw.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that during lunch we had a "visitor". A lady from the town came by the drugstore to order lunch, seems she was working on her house and didn't feel like cooking. She asked Todd Jr. to move over so she could sit down, only in a small town. We enjoyed her company though, she told us a little bit about the town and told us property had gone up quite a bit, but it was still a good town to live in, cool summers and mild winters. She got me thinking about it (just kidding Missy). We noticed how open and friendly the folks were; we were invited to go upstairs and check out the rooms they had. All were sincerely friendly, not that false politeness because they want your business, but rather a sincere joyful attitude.

We finally got to the Fort at around 2:00 pm. It only cost $3.00 per adult, I thought it was a great deal. We got an orientation from one of the Park Rangers and headed off to the movie that was narrated by none other than Kareem Abdul Jabar, he did a fine job. We saw barracks of the enlisted men, the commissary, the hospital (under renovation), officer's quarters and the commander’s house (on the right). I was struck at how "civilized" the officer's quarters or houses were. If the men were married, there was furniture, regular beds, books, china, sitting chairs and several other items that one would think could only be found in the East. Fort Davis is remote by today's standards, can you imagine how difficult it must have been to get this stuff to the fort back in the 19th century? The commander's house was especially impressive. This house was no "thrown together" endeavor. German stonecutters were brought over from Fredericksburg to do the brickwork and it turned out famously. There were two parlors, a dining room, a formal entryway, two bedrooms and sewing room. The kitchen was in the back in a separate dwelling for safety purposes. In case of fire, they only had to replace one dwelling instead of the whole house. I suppose if fish was on the menu you didn't have to smell it all day either.

The fort was operational from 1854 to 1891 and was part of the fort system in West Texas. It was abanded during the Civil War and then reoccupied in 1867. The 9th and 10th cavalries were stationed there. Those regiments were the Buffalo Soldiers, or black cavalry. The Fort also was the first duty station for the first black graduate of West Point. To see how they lived was amazing, it must have been very boring. The officers at least had their families and each other, while the enlisted men spent much time just outside the fort in "traditional" activities. I heard of one death in the fort when a corporal was shot by his Sergeant while he lay sleeping. Life was tough at Fort Davis. Several died with TB and others succumbed to dysentery.

I highly recommend the trip to you, short and much to do. If you wish more info on the fort itself here is the website, For the town of Fort Davis check out this website:

Besides taking care of my history fix, the trip had another benefit: family togetherness. We really did have a good time together. The kids did some hiking after their interest waned, and Missy and me got to spend some time together as well. I recommend taking these trips with your family, they are memory makers. I still remember some I took as a kid, build some memories with your kids, you won't regret it.

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