After the Civil War, several frontier forts in Texas (such as Belknap, Worth and
Cooper) were abandoned, and new ones established further west. One of these new
forts was Fort Griffin, which opened in 1867. It was built on top of a hill in the
beautiful, scrubby countryside of Shackleford county to allow Texans to settle
Comanche country. Along with
Fort Richardson, which lay just to the northeast of
Fort Griffin, these forts marked the boundary line of 'civilization' from Indian
Territory all the way to the Rio Grande at Fort Davis.

A rough and tumble town nicknamed the "Flat" appeared at the north side of Fort
Griffin's hill, where saloons and bawdy houses competed for the soldier's business.
In the late 1870s, the
Great Western Trail had a stop at the Flat before pushing
further north towards Dodge City, Kansas. The town's businessmen "cleaned up" its
reputation in the 1880s, and campaigned to make the town of Fort Griffin the county
seat. However, Albany, with its proximity to the railroads and heavy local investment,
became the seat instead.   

The antebellum Camp Cooper, where the famous Confederate General Robert E. Lee
commanded, lay just northwest of Fort Griffin in southern Throckmorton County.
Established in 1854, the camp served as the embarking point for many heated battles
against the Comanches but was also founded to protect the nearby Indian
reservations (both of which were disbanded in 1856). In 1860, the
Comanche Chief
Peta Nocona was killed along the Pease River in the
Caprock, and his wife, Cynthia
Ann Parker,  was re-captured and brought back to the camp. (Cynthia Ann was a
pioneer's daughter who had been kidnapped during a raid on Parker's Fort in the
1836). Cynthia Ann's son Quanah led the remaining Comanches during the
Red River
Wars.

After the Red River Wars of 1871-1874, federal law prohibited Native Americans who
once called Texas home from crossing south of the Red River.  The United States
closed Fort Griffin, though The Flat hung on for a while until it, too, succumbed to
population loss. Today, the site is a state historical park that is also home to the
official state longhorn herd. The town of Fort Griffin (the "Flat") sits on private but
accessible land. The site of Camp Cooper lies on private land and from what I gather,
nothing visible remains except a historic marker from 1936.

The peacefulness of this park belies the busy and often brutal frontier era.
Fort Griffin
Administration building after the boss blew his top. Ha!
A view onto the colorful, scrubby north
Texas prairie from the Administration
building ruins.
The only evidence of Camp Cooper
and the Comanche Indian
Reservation is this marker, which
reads: Site of the principal village
of the Comanche Indian
Reservation.
Established in 1854 - Here Col.
Robert E. Lee, C.S.A., then
commanding Camp Cooper,
held a Peace Treaty with Chief
Cacumseh on April 11, 1854.

The U.S. and Texas established a
reservation for the Comanches,
which Camp Cooper protected
against the encroaching white
settlers. A Comanche School was
founded nearby. But the white
settlers terrorized them until the
band was forced into Indian
Territory.
Fort Griffin Flat
is now a
ghost
town
, but offers
some interesting
relics, like this
abandoned
truss
bridge
.
I discovered this
precarious footbridge
over the Brazos River
on my way to the
Camp Cooper site.
The Flat's drunk tank, complete with grass covered roof and a cactus
growing on top.
Ranching became a mainstay at
Fort Griffin (the town) once the
military fort closed and the cattle
drives on the
Great Western
Trail
diminished. This is the W O
O brand (Fort Griffin Echo, 1881)
Another snippet from the Fort
Griffin Echo in 1881 explains
that there is NO WAY theirs was
a dying town.
The bridge at Fort
Griffin (Flat) had
originally
cross-hatching on
its lower trusses.
(Library of
Congress, historic
struct
ure survey).
The Great Western Trail helped to
make Fort Griffin Flat a vibrant town
on the scrubby prairie.