There was so much to write about from our trip to Ft Griffin, that I had to divide it into two posts!
We didn’t get to see the actual remains of the fort until Sunday morning. We were fully rested and full from Saturday Night Smores so we decided a walk around the fort would be a good way to start the day. Having visited state historical sites before I was fairly certain that this would be similar to those experiences, but I was truly wrong and don’t mind admitting it. Established in 1867, the fort and the remains of its structures, as well as the grounds around them, are meticulously kempt and the unobtrusive signage is the perfect amount of interesting information that makes you want to read every single sign you come to instead of skipping over them like I’ve been known to do. Of the structures in tact, the most complete is the bakery. It’s so awesome to be able to walk inside a structure like this from over 100 years ago and get a sense of what peoples’ surroundings were like. To see the unique craftsman ship in the carving of the keystones above the windows and the care taken with lining up foundation stones by hand is pretty refreshing in a world of prefab. Of all the structures, I prefer those in various states of ruin like the general store, the officers’ quarters and the highly photographed administration building. The other two highlights are the view from the peak of the hill that looks out over the valley and the cemetery at the entrance to the park. Those of you who know me also know of my love for cemeteries and the workmanship put into tombstone carving. Unfortunately for me, the tombstones are gone. The stone wall around the cemetery marks its place, but the bodies of the soldiers were moved to the National Cemetery in San Antonio when the fort was abandoned in 1881.
One of the coolest things about the Ft Griffin site is the herd of longhorns in and around the campsite. They’re technically the Official State of Texas Longhorn Herd, and are cared for by a staff of about 8 people whose job it is to help sustain the integrity of the longhorn breed. These animals are huge. I mean really big. And they’re just grazing all over their vast yard enjoying themselves. If you want to be really close to them at the campsite, I suggest spot #22 — its literally surrounded on three sides by the longhorn pen.
Albany is the nearest town to Ft Griffin — about 10-15 miles away — so its a good idea to make sure you have everything before you get to the camp. If you need to get food, there’s a grocery store in town called Brookshire’s that has everything you’ll need for picnics and camping (plastic silverware, hamburger, charcoal) and a great selection of fruits and vegetables. What wont it have? Beer or wine. Albany is a dry town, so the nearest liquor store is in Moran. One of the gas stations in town, Prairie Star, also sells bait if you didn’t bring your own and apparently has really good food too.
We desperately needed to get the Airstream washed on the way Ft Griffin and found Blue Beacon in Weatherford and the guys there did a great job. We took the highway to Ft Griffin from Dallas, but thanks to a couple from Mississippi, we took 380 back. It was a beautiful and easy to navigate, but there are only about 4 very small towns along the way, so its a good idea to stop and get gas at the first place you see. We saw a few small RV parks too, a lot of lakes and we were told to stop at the Dairyland Drive In for some BBQ which we did.