The fort lies about 14 miles north west of Durant. To get there, take US Hwy 78
north from Durant. Turn west onto OK 199 for about 4 miles, and Fort Washita
will be on a slight rise to the north.
Fort Washita is today an historic site managed by the Oklahoma Historical Society and listed on the National Register. Sitting close to the
Washita River, along the old Texas Road, the Fort is a scenic, contemplative and quiet place where one can really reflect on history. But in
its former use as a frontier outpost, the Fort saw lots of action.

Established in 1842, the fort's main purpose was to protect Chickasaw and Choctaw settlers from the Plains Indians. Being the furthest fort
in the Southwest, Fort Washita anchored growing Indian communities as well as serving as a staging area for the Mexican-American war of
1848. Though the fort generally had a population of about 150 soldiers, during the height of that war over 2,000 troops called it home.

Post-war, the Fort became the seat of the Chickasaw and Choctaw agencies, As 1861 rolled around, however, the Union army abandoned
its post after the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations seceded, and Confederate forces soon took over.

Well, we all know what happened to the Confederates. Fort Washita did not see any major battles as it was a solidly built place, though
there may have been attempts by the Union army (a cannon ball was found in a field near the fort by amateur archaeologists). Nonetheless,
by 1865 the fort was abandoned. As the frontier moved further west, settlers dismantled many of the stone structures. The Chickasaw
leader Charles Colbert bought the fort and lands surrounding it, and his extended family lived in many of the buildings. Their house - the
former West Barrack - burned in 1917, but the family remained (and many members are buried on the grounds). In 1962, the Colberts
deeded the property to the Oklahoma Historical Society, which has done a superb job of preserving it.

Driving out to Fort Washita, you'll see cross timbered prairies and pass semi-ghost towns, relics of Fort Washita's hey-days. The drive is
truly tonic for the soul. Fort Washita has a wonderful interpreter on staff and a small museum and store. So drive on out and witness
Oklahoma history first hand!
Inside the West Barracks ruin
The Military Road (with reconstructed administration building and parade grounds in the background) also served as a pioneer trail, which met
up with the Fort Coffee's Trading Post at Preston,Texas (now under Lake Texoma's waters). The road doubled as the Butterfield-Overland Stage
Coach and Mail route.
Fort Washita: Chickasaw Fortitude
Reader M. Smith shared this news with Red River Historian:

Great website!  You may already know this but the restored military barracks at Ft. Washita, 15 miles East of Madill, OK burned to the
ground thanks to the antics of 3 apparent ne-er-do-wells. Got onto the premises at night, built a fire in one of the fireplaces and it got out of
hand. I live in the 155 year old town of Pauls Valley, OK.

The Fort Washita barracks have been restored! For more information, go to Civil War Album.
FYI: Fort Washita (in fact, the entire area surrounding Fort Washita) is allegedly haunted. Ghosts and spirits have been sighted on many
occasions, even by seasoned park personnel.I even had my own ghostly encounter at
Boggy Depot, a nearby ghost town that was once the
seat of the Chickasaw Nation. To celebrate this spookiness, Fort Washita hosts ghost stories on the weekend before Halloween. Call
580.924.6502 to learn how to participate in this fun event, or visit them
online.
Questions or comments? E-mail me: robin@redriverhistorian.com
The West Barracks scenic ruin once was home to the Colbert family, prominent Chickasaw leaders, but the home burned down in 1917.
In Fort Washita, you can marvel at the old ruts along the "gold road" - an emigrant trail that ran through California that was also used by the
Butterfield Overland Stage Coach.
How to
get
there