|photo attribution: |
TxHC at English Wikipedia
Since I wrote about Fort Martin Scott, I thought it might be fun to search out other forts and write about them. Actually, I love visiting old forts in my search for possible locations for stories so I’ll probably start with those forts I’ve been to.
This past summer, my husband and I made it a point to veer off the beaten trail on our way home from Dalhart so that we could visit Fort Griffin. Unfortunately, the fort itself was closed for renovations, but we were allowed the pleasure of driving through the reconstruction of a nearby western town.
|Built in 1878, the Fort Griffin Civil Jail|
housed as many as 18 at one time.
Fort Griffin opened its doors in 1867 to help protect settlers against Comanche and Kiowa attacks. A stepping-off point for expeditions headed west, it served many wagon trains and cattle drives. A very rough town called “The Flats” settled just north of the Fort. The town was also known as Griffin. We visited with the woman at the visitor’s center for the fort and she claimed that during its peak the town boasted over twenty saloons and over twenty cat houses (she told us an exact number and I remember it being something like 21 or 22 but I failed to write it down), all there to serve the cowboys and military personnel that passed through. When the drives came through on the Western Trail headed for Dodge City, Kansas, the trail would be five miles wide with cattle.
|Clampett's Wagon Yard|
Some very notable characters visited “The Flats”; Bat and Jim Masterson, John Selman, Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and Dave Rudabuagh. In 1874, Fort Griffin became the temporary county seat to Shackleford County but the citizens felt that the unsavory element surrounding the fort would not do for a county seat. An election was held and it was voted to move the county seat to land offered by Sheriff Henry C. Jacobs. In 1875, the town of Albany became the county seat but emotions ran high between the two towns and Albany struggled until the waning fur trade and cattle drives forced the demise of Fort Griffin. In 1881, the army abandoned the fort. The railroad came to Albany and while Albany prospered, the town of Griffin and the fort became all but a ghost town.