Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fort Griffin Texas Safari

In the spirit of Louis L'Amour, last Friday I threaded my way through broken hills of the "Shatterbelt," and made it eventually to Fort Griffin and vicinity under a hot sun. It being above a hundred degrees Fahrenheit (37.8+ Celsius) when I arrived, Jane Lenoir, the knowledgeable, energetic and funny site manager, suggested I roam about the 500-or-so-acre grounds in an electric vehicle, which I did and proved to be great fun. It's so quiet out there. Some scrub vegetation, shapely clouds, light hot breezes, a handful of grasshoppers, ghostly fort ruins and nary a person or bird in sight. Astonishing, really.  
Built in a strategic area of Texas after the American Civil War, Fort Griffin served as base camp or respite point for cavalry operations, gunfighters, buffalo hunters and cattledrivers. The adjacent Flats hosted saloons and hookers, gambling and treachery. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday met here; Bat Masterson and Hurricane Minnie came through; Major General William T. Sherman inspected the fort; and let's not forget the appearance of John Wesley Hardin (son of a preacher man), nor the gambler Lottie Deno, nor Pat Garrett. The so-called "Tin Hat Brigade," a vigilante group, terrorized the area in the mid-1870s. There was, in fact, much in the way of "unauthorized" murder and mayhem around those parts. Which reminds me: Cormac McCarthy's creepy 1985 novel Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West pretty much ends at Fort Griffin and the Flats.   


Massive cattle drives came through, too, along the Goodnight-Loving trail right after the Civil War, and along the Western Cattle Trail (Fort Griffin-Dodge City). Cattle were brought in to replace the American Bison, which was virtually wiped out by the time Fort Griffin was abandoned in 1881.

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune.  

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Robert E. Howard was impressed with Fort Griffin. There's a pic of him standing among the stones.