Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fort Croghan: A Fun and Fascinating Place to Visit

A visit to the Texas Hill Country brings many surprises. In addition to the amazing beauty of the rolling hills and fields bursting with spring flowers, there are also a large number of carefully preserved historic sites. Near the city of Burnet in central Texas lies the third of the first four military forts built by the U.S. Army in 1849 during their efforts to protect settlers from Comanche attacks.

Fort Croghan was named for Colonel George Croghan, who has a fascinating story of his own. Croghan was a military hero who fought in the War of 1812. As a 21 year old officer, Croghan successfully defended Fort Stephenson in Ohio in a battle with British forces led by General Proctor. Croghan was later promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General in the Mexican War and later retired to New Orleans where he served as their postmaster.

The Texas fort served the local residents well. It had a large, four-room log building to serve as a hospital. It also had four log buildings serving as officer’s quarters and many other buildings. All buildings were made of oak, which is the logical choice in the Live Oak-covered hills of Texas. In 1852, the fort became the headquarters of the Second Dragoons. The presence of the soldiers in this area built confidence in settlers and soon, Burnet and the surrounding area was large enough to establish its own county. As the town and county grew, the need for protections provided by the fort diminished. In 1853, the U.S. government decided there was no longer a need for soldiers in the area and Fort Croghan was closed.

Fort Croghan now has a museum with a collection of Old West artifacts that includes a 100-year-old square grand piano, "pump" organs, and an 1852 ballot box. There are saddles and side-saddles, and old jail doors from the county jail. Most of the items on display date back to around 1875. In addition to the many cabins still intact, there is also a blacksmith shop, stagecoach house, powder house, and schoolhouse.

Fort Croghan is in Burnet, Texas at 703 Buchanan Drive, or Highway 29 West. It is open for visitors from April to October, Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. You can call them at: (512) 756-8281. Their web page is at: http://www.fortcroghan.org/index.htm

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