This fort, in Durant, Oklahoma, is a Civil War-era museum that’s been standing for well over 150 years. Offering visitors a variety of educational opportunities, including tours of the restored buildings throughout the area, re-enactments of Civil War battles, and a wide variety of yearly events, Fort Washita is proud to give guests a look into days gone by. Fort Washita was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, and Fort Washita Historic Site and Museum is owned by the Chickasaw Nation and is open to the public.
In 1842, Fort Washita
was established by General, and future president, Zachary Taylor to protect the
citizens of the two Native-American tribes, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations,
from raids and attacks by the local Plains Indian tribes, as well as
less-than-friendly white settlers. The fort was quite an active center for
travelers and was often visited by pioneers on their way to California. The
fort was also especially busy in the years leading up the Civil War, with
several different legions and dragoons being garrisoned here.
The fort was abandoned
by Federal forces sometime later, around the beginning of the Civil War in 1858.
The Confederate army sent its soldiers into the area and its troops ended up holding
the post until the end of the war. Once the war reached its conclusion, the
Confederates decided to burn the remaining structures. Never again was the fort
reoccupied by the U.S. military.
In 1870, the ownership
of Fort Washita was handed to the U.S. Department of the Interior. It was then
kept by the Chickasaw Nation, and the grounds were often allotted to tribe
members. After several years in private hands, the Oklahoma Historical Society
bought the fort grounds in 1962 and the site was soon restored.
Nowadays, Fort Washita
is open to tourists to teach of the area’s fascinating history. Visitors can
view the restored buildings, watch re-enactments of moments and battles from
the Civil War, and, The fort grounds also offer a variety of events over the
course of the year, including Ghost Stories in October, and, once a year,
tourists are also invited to take part in the Fur Trade Era Rendezvous, which brings
visitors into a journey of the past through educational stations, storytellers
and more assorted features. Fort Washita is open to help any interested folks
take a tour of an important part of U.S. history.