Holder's Hideaway: Fort Richardson State Park

JACKSBORO, TX (KAUZ) - Summer is officially over and with the kids in school, for some, the weekends are the perfect and only time to get out and enjoy the weather.

And with the start of Fall, we'll start to see cooler temperatures.

Just outside Jacksboro, Fort Richardson has sat in Jack County for almost 149 years.

A lot has changed since the fort was activated in 1876 but Park Superintendent Robert Frie says the history is still preserved.

"The main attraction for Fort Richardson is definitely the historic site area. We still have seven of the original structures still here from the original fort era. We have two reconstructed buildings, the picket structures and the museum interpretive center. We have built and constructed a nature center that showcases animal pelt hides and different information about the different wildlife in the immediate area. It's really popular with kids, and it's a hands-on facility where the kids can actually touch and feel the animal hides and pelts we have available," Frie said.

One of the original sites is the Commander's House.

Built out of cottonwood, it's the last known structure of its kind in the United States.

Fort Richardson was built to not only protect settlers from the Kiowa and Comanche Indians but to herd cattle and build telegraph lines back to the east.

At the fort's height from 1871-1872, it was the biggest military installation in the United States.

The fort was closed for a period but was then recommissioned in 1922 to 1954 where trained artillery troops in the National Guard.

With so many years of history to display, Ray Monroe, the lead interpreter at the park says they always try to keep updating their showcases.

"We change it up periodically because otherwise, you're seeing the same thing. This way it's something new you haven't heard before, a story or whatever," Monroe said.

One major change to the park is the addition of air conditioning to some of the buildings in the park.

Frie says in the past, the heat of Texas has caused visitation numbers to dwindle and that air conditioning has seen their visitation numbers increase.

"The biggest changes we've seen is actually visitation. Day in, day out, year after year our visitation is continuing to grow," said Frie.

With the increased visitation comes an increase in revenue allowing Frie to maintain and improve the park.

Fort Richardson has 57 campsites, all with water and electricity, 9 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, along with a lake used for boating and fishing.

Fort Richardson is located in southern Jacksboro on US Highway 281. To contact them, call (940) 567-3506 or check out their website at tpwd.state.tx.us.