Fort Towson State Historic Site

Location: Fort Towson, Oklahoma

Website: Oklahoma State Park

General Description: Fort Towson was established in 1824 to deal with problems between the local Indians, settlers claiming the area as part of the Arkansas Territory, and other lawless elements.  It also served as an outpost between the United States and Mexico and later Texas after the revolution in 1836.  During the 1830s it served as the gateway for settlers moving into Texas.  When the Choctaw and Chickasaw were forcibly removed to the area, it served as a point of dispersal and enforced the removal of settlers that were already in the area.  The fort was also an important staging area for American troops during the Mexican War of 1846.  As the frontier moved west, the need for Fort Towson declined and the fort was closed in 1856.  However, during the Civil War it was reopened for a time to serve as a headquarters for Confederate troops operating in the Indian territory.  In 1865, General Stand Watie surrendered his command near the fort and became the last Confederate General to lay down their arms.  By 1960, when the state acquired the site, little remained of the frontier fort.  Archeological work has uncovered the stone foundations of most of the buildings that made up the fort and these are on display today.  Along with the ruins the State Historic Site includes a small museum about the history of the fort and surrounding area.

Impressions:

1) Although the museum is quite small, it is packed with historical information about the fort.  You can learn a lot about the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians that came to Oklahoma from their homes in the southeast.  Many of these Indians dispersed from the fort to establish small farm holdings, much in the style of their former homes. However, some also embraced white man agricultural practices establishing large plantations with antibellum homes and African-American slaves.  Others became shopkeepers providing services in local towns such as nearby Doaksville.

2) There is a short path to the fort site where there are interpretive signs about each of the buildings that made up the fort.  Most of the ruins are nothing more than the stone foundation of the wooden buildings, however, there are some of the stone chimneys and walls standing for a few of the buildings.