Fort Phantom Hill in Jones County, Texas is located near Abilene and is part of the 650 mile Forts Trail system and is open to the public. The park is setup for visitors to wonder around the structures and learn about the history of the fort. Five years ago I was in the area for work and one of my customers recommended that I visit the site. I’m glad I did and plan to visit the site again. Below is a brief history of the fort and some pictures I took during my visit. Learn more over at Fort Phantom Hill Website.
Fort Phantom Hill – History
Originally called “The Post on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River”, served as a second line of forts from 1851 to 1854 to protect the westward-moving frontier of Texas settlement. Shortly after the fort’s closure, fire destroyed most of the fort’s buildings.
Then in 1858 the fort was reoccupied as a way station on the Southern Overland Mail Route. The Butterfield Stagecoach added a stop at the abandoned fort. During the Civil War the Confederacy’s Frontier Battalion used the fort.
In 1871 the fort became a sub-post for Fort Griffen. It was even used by troops involved in the Indian campaigns.
By 1875 the nearby town grew up around the fort. During this time the property was used as a buying and shipping point for buffalo hides. Eventually the town grew to more than 500 residents. The 1880 Census shows more than 545 people living at the fort, along with a hotel, and other business that could be found in West Texas towns.
Eventually the land where the fort was moved into private ownership and stayed there until it was deeded over to the Fort Phantom Foundation to help ensure its long-term preservation and to make it more accessible to the public.
Today all that’s left are some stone buildings, stone walls/foundations, and a few chimneys sitting on 38 acres.. Fort Phantom Hill is considered one of the most untouched historical site in Texas and every effort has been made to make to preserve the site. The surviving buildings are the intact stone powder magazine, stone guardhouse, and mostly-intact commissary/warehouse.
Fort Phantom Hill – My Visit
Even in the fall West Texas can be hot. During my visit it was in the high 80s and humid. I was there maybe an hour and I was dehydrated when I got back to my car. I found the restrooms were closed and the water turned off. But I think they are only during the warmer seasons.
The park is well maintained. Once you leave the main building, the paths are natural surfaces that lead up to each structure. When I was there, you can wander in around most of the ruins. Each structure has a sign that tells us what it was used for.
If you are in the area or history fan, then this is a great visit. It should take about an hour and should be side trip if you are visiting Fort Griffen or passing through the area. Its far enough out, make sure you have plenty of gas for the car and water for you and your family. Also watch for snakes and other biting creatures.
About the Images
The images were shot by hand in the mid afternoon sun with my Sony Nex-3N and a Sony SEL16F28 16mm f/2.8. I then edited the images in Adobe Lightroom. Next, I post processed with Topaz Clarity to add texture, brighten, and bring out the details in the images. Then I removed the dust spots. Finally, I used Topaz DeNoise to remove the noise from the images. All images can be found on Flickr. The pictures found in the article are just a few of my favorites.