Lying in a high spot close to where the Kiamichi meets up with the Red River, Fort Towson was established in 1824 to ensure the safety of
the
early Choctaw and Chickasaw settlers. The small garrison had to deal with a lot of scuffles between Arkansas and Texas Anglos who
wanted to settle in the fertile valley. Because they were squatting on Indian land, the white men decided that instead of acquiescing to
Union control, they'd just burn down the fort, which they did in 1829. The fort rebuilt in 1830 and was dubbed "Camp Phoenix."

As the displaced Indians moved in and established towns like
Doaksville (the first Choctaw capital) and Boggy Depot, the fort stayed
active but relatively small. In 1840, it served the troops that would later fight in the Mexican War, but was closed in 1856. During the Civil
War, General Sam Bell Maxie used the old fort as a command post, and General Stand Watie of the Confederate Cherokees made it a
staging area for his guerilla raids on Union troops. General Watie, in fact, was the last Confederate Commander to surrender, doing so in
Doaksville in 1865.

Fort Towson is now a small historic site managed by the Oklahoma Historical Society. The fort consists of ruins, as latter-day settlers
dismantled the stone buildings to use in their own houses. A small interpretive center and store houses some interesting artifacts found
around the fort.

Fort Towson is the oldest **U.S.** fort in the Red River Valley. There are older forts, such as the 18th century Taovayan garrison in
Montague County (now an archeological site) and several small, private forts on the Texas side of the river, which are now sitting under
corn fields. Of course, there's also the presidio at Los Adaes (Spanish) and Fort St. Jean Baptiste (French) in Natchitoches. Fort Towson's
tangible ruins, on the other hand, serve as a reminder of the early Trail of Tears and the Confederacy in Indian Territory and Texas.
To get to Fort Towson, take Hwy 70 either east of Hugo or west of Idabel.
The road to the fort lies on the western side of the city of Fort Towson,
almost directly across  the entrance to Raymond Gary State Park.
Admission is free, but donations are accepted! Alternately, you can click
on the map below to show you the way
.
Fort Towson is a small place, with a few relics. The 1857 Cannon and the cistern and flagpole grace the fort's parade grounds.
Fort Towson: The Oldest U.S.
Fort in the Red River Valley
The well on the parade grounds has been re-constructed. Most of the fort lies in ruins. The fort was burned in the late 1820s by white settlers
who resented American border patrol between the U.S. and Mexican Texas, and Indian settlement by the Shawnees, Caddos, and Choctaws.  
Though re-built, further destruction before and after the Civil War led locals to the conclusion that it was okay to dismantle the old structures
to build their own homes.
Choctaws and Chickasaws settled around the fort, where they built Indian academies, churches, farms, plantations, and towns. The first
major settlement around the fort was
Doaksville, named after the trading post established by Josiah Doaks, a white man from Mississippi who
followed the Choctaws into Indian Territory to advocate on their behalf. The village became a trading center. The need to supply Fort Towson
was also the impetus to clear the
Great Raft of the Red River north of Natchitoches.
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
How to get
there