When completed the fort would house up to six companies of soldiers. Included were administration building, a hospital, officers’ quarters, numerous barracks, a guard house, a bakery, a powder magazine, five storehouses, four stables, a laundry, and a workshop. Soon after the fort was complete a new settlement started at the bottom of the hill. This settlement was first call The Bottom, The Flat or Hidetown and eventually would take the name of the fort. Along with honest folks that engaged in ranching, farming, buffalo hunting and other businesses many well know outlaws, gunfighters and hooligans arrived. The town gained a reputation for lawlessness. Some of these visitors included Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Big Nose Kate (famous lady gambler), Pat Garrett, Bat and Jim Masterson, and gunfighter John Wesley Hardin. Soon the town was nicknamed “Babylon on the Brazos.
As more people arrive the indian attacks increased in the area. In 1874 the Army defeated the Kiowas and Comanches at Pal Duro Canyon. After the Red River War the area was flooded with more settlers and became a ranching and farming center. On May 31, 1879 Capt JB Irvine from Company A, 22nd Infantry lowered the flag for the last time and relocated with the troops to Fort Clark.
On Januarey 1, 2008, Fort Griffin was transferred to the Texas Historical Commission. Today there are the ruins that remain from the fort. The visitors center is a must with exhibits and information about this historical site. There are also campsites, hiking trails, and it is the home of the official Texas Longhorn Herd.
The history of Fort Griffin is commemorated each year in the Fort Griffin Fandangle, and outdoor musical. The Fandangle, which has been in production is 1938 is staged in an acre-sized amphitheater with a cast of over 400 locals. The six performances, that occur on the last two weekends in June, are attended by more than 10,000 people each year. (I hate to say this BUT I have never attended – I will next year!)
Please visit the Fort Griffin website at www.visitfortgriffin.com.
“Mom, this is a cool place”………..little boy at the Fort Griffin Visitors Center