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 served 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!
Fort Washita
The West Barracks scenic ruin once was home to the Colbert family, prominent
Chickasaw leaders, but the home burned down in 1917.
Inside the west barracks
ruin at Fort Washita. The
iron bars hold up the
stone walls that were
covered in ivy (vandals
may have partially
destroyed the ivy). The
stone was quarried from
the bromide-heavy
roocks underlying the
area.
The Military Road (with
reconstructed
administration building
and parade grounds in the
background) also served as
a pioneer trail, which met
up with the 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.
The area surrounding
Fort Washita is
allegedly haunted.
Ghosts and spirits
have been sighted on
many occasions, even
by seasoned park
personnel. I 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.
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.