Ruth & I went to San Angelo, TX last year because of it size and location. This Texas city over 100,000 people is in West Texas ranching country. The closest big towns to it are Odessa and Midland about 120 miles further west. We enjoyed ourselves in this town learning about its colorful past and the characters who lived there. There are about 50 tourist attractions here including Miss Hattie’s Bordello Museum. We especially liked San Angelo’s visitor center, its river walk, the Cactus Hotel, and I spent a lot of time at Fort Concho, which did not particularly interest Ruth.
Fort Concho is part of the National Park Service’s National Historic Landmarks. The NPS maintains a number of frontier forts including Scott and Larned in Kansas, Bent’s Old Fort in Colorado, Fort Laramie in Wyoming, Fort Davis also in Texas, and my personal favorite Fort Smith, Arkansas. All are interesting and worth visiting. Frontier forts provided essential services like protection, prudent use of natural resources like water, and community outreach. Other Texas NHLs include The Alamo, The King Ranch, and the Palo Alto Battlefield in the Rio Grande Valley that we have also visited.
The Fort Concho army post lasted from 1867 until 1889. Up to 500 men lived there including Buffalo Soldiers. The E. H. Danner Museum of Telephony is part of the Fort Concho experience. Curators maintain a museum with mostly temporary exhibits, and it has 20 original buildings including a headquarters to explore. The enlisted men’s barracks were especially worth seeing but required a lot of walking. The enlisted men enjoyed baseball, card games, and working in the company’s gardens. They were provided with religious services, but they were poorly attended. Men of little education, they were mainly attracted to gambling, alcohol, and women. However, Fort Concho maintained a reading room for them; and 21 day furloughs were the standard.
I couldn’t help but notice that a serious community spirit permeated the atmosphere at this attraction. There were many meetings going on while I wandered around. Locals call San Angelo an off-the-beaten-path oasis in West Texas. It is that.