Fort Davis National Historic Site Keeps its Historic View
February 17, 2010
Fort Davis, TX – When the famed Buffalo Soldiers, stationed at Fort Davis in the late 1800s, stepped out of their barracks, they saw a dramatic skyline created by the jagged cliffs of the rugged Davis Mountains. Today, that view survives, thanks to the efforts of The Conservation Fund, the National Park Service, the Texas congressional delegation, The National Parks Conservation Association and a host of concerned organizations and individuals.
“There are many individuals and groups who worked together over several years and deserve credit for protecting the integrity of this popular historic site,” said John Morlock, superintendent of Fort Davis National Historic Site.
Although its fully-restored buildings and original ruins make Fort Davis National Historic Site one of the best preserved examples of a frontier military post in the American Southwest, there has always been one aspect of the fort that remained at risk—its view.
Most of the landscape surrounding Fort Davis has been protected, but a prominent 41-acre bluff overlooking the fort was for sale, generating concern that the pristine view would be disturbed. Conservation buyer Roy Truitt stepped in and purchased the property as a temporary solution, holding it for two years until federal funding was secured. The Conservation Fund purchased the property in January and is working with the National Park Service to add the land to Fort Davis National Historic Site. The National Parks Conservation Association provided key support by assisting with congressional and public outreach.
“We are thrilled that the bluff overlooking Fort Davis remains protected for our children and grandchildren,” said NPCA Texas Regional Director Suzanne Dixon. “Protecting this land in perpetuity is an important victory for Fort Davis, for Texas, and for the National Park System.”
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Senator John Cornyn and Congressman Ciro Rodriguez helped by passing legislation to expand Fort Davis National Historic Site to include the Truitt property and securing federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the National Park Service’s eventual purchase of this keystone property.
“The beautiful landscape of Fort Davis plays a leading role in the history of the courageous Buffalo Soldiers and our nation’s westward expansion,” said Senator Hutchison. “I’m pleased The Conservation Fund, the National Park Service, members of Congress and concerned citizens could come together to protect the land for the public. The preservation of the picturesque vista that acts as the backdrop to the former military barracks will allow visitors to see the fort and the surrounding area as explorers, travelers and soldiers did more than a hundred years ago.”
“Home to the Army’s first African-American soldiers, Fort Davis National Historic Site is a pristine example of a frontier military post and remains a beacon among Texas’ rich collection of historical parks,” said Senator Cornyn. “Central to the beauty of Fort Davis is the big sky and stunning views West Texas is known for, and I’m thrilled that members of the delegation, along with local citizens and environmental advocates, were all able to come together in this worthwhile effort to protect the beauty of a valuable piece of Texas history.”
“The protection of the historic lands at Fort Davis has been a team effort and I am honored to have been a part of it,” said Congressman Rodriguez. “Preserving our vistas means preserving our past and by securing the pristine landscape around Fort Davis National Historic Site, we pay homage to the Buffalo Soldiers and other military settlers and explorers of the region. I am fortunate to represent such a diverse and unique congressional district and I will continue to work with the delegation and local stakeholders to keep Texas history alive.”
Additional support for the project came from generous donations made by many private individuals, including adjacent landowners James and Tammy King, who donated eight acres of their property to The Conservation Fund for inclusion in Fort Davis National Historic Site.
“Protecting the entire viewshed of Fort Davis allows visitors to get the full experience of what life was like for the Buffalo Soldiers and other troops stationed at Fort Davis more than a hundred years ago,” said Andy Jones, director of The Conservation Fund’s Texas office. “We are incredibly thankful to Mr. Truitt, our congressional delegation and the many organizations and individuals who recognized this landscape as an integral part of telling the history of the Southwest.”
Fort Davis is a vivid reminder of the significant role played by the military in the settlement and development of the western frontier. Beginning in 1854, Fort Davis housed troops that protected travelers on the Trans-Pecos portion of the San Antonio-El Paso Road and the Chihuahua Trail during the Indian Wars in West Texas. Fort Davis also played a major role in African-American history by serving as the regimental headquarters for the 9th and 10th cavalry and 24th and 25th infantry units of the Army, the all-black regiments known as the Buffalo Soldiers.
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we combine a passion for conservation with an entrepreneurial spirit to protect your favorite places before they become just a memory. A hallmark of our work is our deep, unwavering understanding that for conservation solutions to last, they need to make economic sense. Top-ranked, we have protected more than 7 million acres across America.