The area around the Davis Mountains is known as “The Last Unspoiled Frontier,” and is one of the prettiest parts of Texas. Unfortunately, the severe drought has been devastating to the region, and raging wildfires caused widespread evacuations last year. It was still nice to be back in the mountains.
The town of Fort Davis is home to Fort Davis National Historic Site, and Tim and I enjoyed our visit there this morning. Fort Davis was established in 1854 and is one of the best surviving examples of a frontier military post in the Southwest. Several regiments of African American soldiers were stationed at Fort Davis, and these troops were actively involved in defending West Texas during the Indian Wars.
Most of the existing structures date from the fort’s heyday after the Civil War when Fort Davis was rebuilt. After visiting numerous forts over the last seven years, I have grown to appreciate military architecture. Many of these buildings are really beautiful, and I especially enjoy the residential structures. The row of almost identical officers' quarters facing the parade ground at Fort Davis is impressive.
|Porches on Officers' Row|
|Two-Story Officers' Quarters|
|Enlisted Men's Barracks|
|Inside the Barracks|
We decided to take a scenic drive through the Davis Mountains where we saw evidence of the drought with severely parched hillsides. We stopped at McDonald Observatory to view the exhibits, but spring break once again interfered with our plans. During spring break, just visiting the exhibits is not permitted. Package deals were required, and we didn’t want to spend that much time. So we opted to drive to the top of the mountain and simply get a closer look at the observatories.
|On the Way to McDonald Observatory|
McDonald Observatory is one of the great observatory centers in the world, and the original unit dates to the 1930s. The observatory hosts star parties, which would be fun to attend, but I’m glad we missed the one last night when 800+ children and adults showed up. We’ve learned that spring break is not the best time to be in Texas.
|The Original Unit|
An added bonus to our drive to the observatory was climbing to the highest point on the Texas highway system. The views from the top were lovely, despite the lingering haze.
|The View from the Top|