Old Forts and New Amenities in the Southern Plains
The Southern Plains of the United States (U.S.), specifically the states of Texas and Oklahoma, is a region of transition. Physically, it represents the transition from the humid, forested eastern U.S. with mostly perennial water resources to the dry western U.S. with grasslands, deserts, and mostly ephemeral water resources. Socioeconomically, it represents the transition from the densely populated eastern U.S. to the wild open spaces of the western U.S. Historically and culturally, it represents the transition from the French/English colonies of the eastern half of the U.S. to the Spanish territory of the Southwest. Later, it would represent the transition from the eastern pre-Civil War states to the western post-Civil War states. The Southern Plains also represent a transition in time when U.S. settlers were moving into western Native American lands. This occupation led to many intense battles between the European/American settlers and various Tribal Nations. Between 1821 and 1890, many forts were built in response to these conflicts and also to promote new settlements. Of these, 33 have been protected as publicly accessible places, including museums, state parks, national historic sites, city parks, resorts, and even a U.S. Department of Agriculture research facility. This chapter inventories and discusses the historical, cultural, and natural values of these ‘protected forts’ within the context of ecosystem services that have evolved from these sites.
Many fort/park site directors/managers provided invaluable information on the forts and their numerous ecosystem services and societal benefits. These included Mike Alexander (Fort Phantom Hill), Jim Argo (Fort Washita), David Bianchi (Fort Martin Scott), Bob Bluthardt (Fort Concho), Crista Bromley (Hamilton Creek Park, City of Burnet), Chris Caswell (Fort Sherman, Lake Bob Sandlin State Park), Manuela Cataño (Fort Leaton State Historic Site), John Davis (Fort Towson), Chris Deurmyer (Fort Sill), Bill Dillahunty (Fort Inge), Tom Fisher (Fort Parker State Park), Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum, David Fowler (Fort Gibson, Oklahoma Historical Society), Robert Frie (Fort Richardson State Park), Prasanna Gowda (Fort Reno, USDA), Erica Guerra (Fort Ringgold, Rio Grande City CISD), Wesley Hamilton (Fort Boggy State Park), Jim Hammond (Fort Belknap), Roger Havlak (Rio Concho Park, City of San Angelo), John Heiner (Fort Davis National Historic Site), Fran Hoerster (Fort Mason), Taylor Hunter (Fort Supply), Monique Jensen (Fort Clark Springs), Byron Johnson (Fort Fisher, Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum), Susan Johnston (Fort Graham chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution), Wanda Kienzle (Old Fort Bliss), Jane Lenoir (Fort Griffin), Sarah McReynolds (Old Fort Parker Historic Site), Ann Marshal (Fort Reno, BlueSTEM AgriLearning Center), Tom Miller (Fort McIntosh, Laredo Community College), Cody Mobley (Fort McKavett), Melba Montoya (Historic Fort Stockton), Brian Northup (Fort Reno, USDA), Russell Nowell (Fort Clark Historical Society), Wendy Ogden (Fort Reno, U.S. Cavalry Association), Sarah Overholser (Historical Fort Reno), Bob Rea (Fort Supply), Omar Reed (Fort Gibson), Garland & Lana Richards (Fort Chadbourne), Steven Ridlehuber (Fort Graham, USACE), Brian Severn (Cibolo Creek Ranch), Russell Skowronek (CHAPS Program, University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley), Jefferson Spilman (Fort Lancaster), Glen Taylor (Fort Inglish), Jeff Taylor Sr. (Fort Duncan), Laura Whitehurst (Fort Phantom Hill), Darrell Williams (Fort Richardson), Milli Williams (Fort Croghan). Emily McBroom helped research locations and history of the forts. A special thanks to Victoria, Aaralyn, and Griffin Julian, who traveled to all the forts and helped me collect information, photographs, and memories.
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