|The northwest tower of the presidio.|
The presidio soon was enlarged and rebuilt of stone. Completed in 1764, the expanded presidio measured approximately 348 feet by 324 feet. Towers stood on the northwest and, near the river, the southeast corners. In 2011 a partial reconstruction was completed, along with a visitor center and a new entrance -- and a reconfigured golf course. A pivotal site of the Spanish mission strategy, the restoration of Presidio San Saba is well worth a visit.
A century after the massacre at Mission San Saba, Anglo settlers in the region still were battling Comanche warriors. In 1852 Fort McKavett was established near a major Comanche war trail about 20 miles west of the ruins of Presidio San Saba. There was considerable action during the 1850s, but the fort was abandoned at the outbreak of the Civil War. After the war the army returned, and Fort McKavett was rebuilt and expanded.
|Karon in front of two sets of officers' quarters while touring Fort McKavett in a golf cart.|
At Fort McKavett, Karon and I encountered park superintendent Buddy Garza, who hosted several Traveling Texas History classes from Panola College. Buddy was a key figure in the restoration work at nearby Presidio San Saba, and soon Fort Lancaster to the southwest will be consolidated under his superintendency.
Pushing westward, we reached Fort Stockton during the afternoon. Founded in 1858, the post was strategically placed athwart the Great Comanche War Trail, only a gunshot's distance from the springs which provided water for Native Americans as well as for stagecoach and wagon travelers. Reoccupied after the Civil War, Fort Stockton was moved a short distance and rebuilt with substantial stone buildings. Most of these structures still stand around the parade ground, and several are open to visitors.
There are excellent displays and attractions at West-of-the-Pecos Museum and Park just north of the railroad tracks in the south part of town. Every room of the old hotel at left offers local treasures, and the 1896 saloon at right was the site of a gunfight in which Barney Riggs killed two other shootists. The bullet holes are proudly labeled. Behind these venerable buildings is a precise reproduction of Judge Roy Bean's Jersey Lily Saloon.