Fort Richardson Historic State Park
- Soldiers arrived in Jacksboro in 1866 with orders to establish a fort at Buffalo Springs, 20 miles north of Jacksboro. However, due to unhealthy conditions at Buffalo Springs and the constant Indian raids, that fort was abandoned. The soldiers returned to Jacksboro receiving orders to establish a fort on the south bank of Lost Creek.
- Fort Richardson was established in November 1867 in honor of General Israel Bush (Fighting Dick) Richardson, who died in the Battle of Antietam during the Civil War. The fort was the northernmost of a line of Federal Forts established after the Civil War.
- Fort Richardson was the largest fort in the nation and was a key post in the struggle between the white man and the Indians, mainly Kiowa and Comanche from 1871 to 1874. The Indians saw their way of life being destroyed and resisted the army’s drive to move them north of the Red River and onto reservations. The soldiers of Fort Richardson maintained the post, guarded the military road connecting them with Fort Griffin and Concho to the southwest, helped local law officers keep the peace, pursued criminals and deserters and most importantly, patrolled for Indian raiding parties. On occasion “routine” patrols became bloody battles; one of the most notable being the fierce battle at the Little Wichita River in July 1870. Kiowa Chief Kicking Bird and a large war party ambushed 56 troopers from the 6th Cavalry at Little Wichita. Even though heavily outnumbered, the cavalrymen fought off their attackers. Medals of Honor were awarded to 13 men of the 6th gallantry.
- Expeditions sent from Fort Richardson arrested Indians responsible for the Warren Wagon Train Massacre in 1871 and found Comanches in Palo Duro Canyon.
- The Fort was abandoned in May 1878.
- In 1940, Fort Richardson was the mobilization site for Battery F, 2nd Battalion, 131st Field Artillery Regiment, 36th Infantry Division, Texas National Guard. The unit was at sea when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. They were captured in Java in March 1942, having been left behind when the Americans retreated to Australia, garnering them the name of the “Lost Battalion”. They spent the rest of WWII as Japanese prisoners performing forced labor, suffering untold hardships and starvation. A historic marker at the park commemorates the men who were mobilized at the fort.
- Today, Fort Richardson State Park, Historical Site and Lost Creek Reservoir State Trailway is a 454.16 acres fort site with seven original buildings, which have been restored, along with two replica fort buildings. The Lost Creek Reservoir State Trailway is a hike, bike and equestrian trail that is approximately 18 miles. The trailway runs adjacent to Fort Richardson and along Lost Creek, which travels the east side of Lake Jacksboro and on to Lost Creek Reservoir.
The Fort offers visitors a glimpse into the past of Texas. Come experience the past and pass on our heritage to future generations. Annual events include the “Trunk or Treat and Ghost Walk” for kids to trick-or-treat through the park from campsite to campsite, the “Battle for Fort Richardson!!!” Civil War Re-enactment that takes place in November, the “Ghosts” of Christmas Past - when public is invited to observe re-enactors in the historic buildings while they go about their evening routines and celebrate Christmas in an 1870’s cavalry post!
For more information on the Fort and its rich history, visit the Fort Richardson website.