Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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March 18, 2014

New Texas Forts Trail book captures beauty/history

By TYLER MASK

The Texas Forts Trail is a winding road that intertwines handfuls of Texas History. The trail, which spans 650 miles and 29 counties, is a massive undertaking for anyone. A few local counties the trail runs through include Palo Pinto, Jack, Erath and Young. To make the trip easier, people can now visit the trails in book form, “The Texas Forts Trail.”

Hailing from Farmers Branch Historical Park in Farmers Branch, historian, photographer and FBHP superintendent, Derrick Birdsall, compiled the book of photography regarding the Texas Forts Trail. Sunday, March 23, at 2:30 p.m., Birdsdall will be making a trip to the W.K. Gordon Center for Industrial History of Texas in Thurber to give a free presentation on his new book.

The book, with text by Kristine Davis, highlights the eight frontier forts and one Spanish presidio that make up the trail.

According to Texas Forts Trail's website, 1848 to 1900, the U.S. Army built 44 major posts and established more than 100 temporary camps in Texas.

All the building was a result of settlers streaming west with hopes for new opportunities and the need for protection from Native Americans.

American settlers were intent on putting down stakes, while the Native Americans were left trying to hang on to their hunting grounds and way of life. Stuck in the middle was the frontier soldier, stationed within the forts.

From building the forts – literally from the ground up – and mediating between both parties, the soldiers were responsible for everything.

In time, the forts grew out of tents into “civilized” fortresses, the remains of which run all through the Texas Forts Trail Region.

Forts on the trail include:

• Presidio de San Saba.

• Fort Belknap.

• Fort Phantom Hill.

• Fort Chadbourne.

• Fort Mason.

• Fort McKavett.

• Fort Richardson.

• Fort Griffin.

• Fort Concho.

Texas Heritage Trails Program is charged with taking care of the trail and promoting tourism. THTP encourages communities, heritage regions and the state to partner with them and promote Texas's historic and cultural resources.

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