Fort Phantom Hill

by Bonnie Tate

Over the long weekend my husband and I got out and explored our part of Texas, and a bit beyond. We spent Thanksgiving in Dallas so on the return trip west we took some great detours. Fort Phantom Hill, near Abilene, was the first. A truly lonely place, even now, imagine how isolated a spot it was in the early 1850s. This was a frontier fort, built by the US Infantry as an outpost for protecting Texas settlers from Indians. 

A lieutenant stationed at the fort put it nicely-

“When I say to you that we have a beautiful valley to look upon, I have said everything favorable that could be said of this place.  We are camped in a grove of blackjack two or three hundred yards from the creek which is alt.  Everybody is disgusted.  Like the Dove after the Deluge, not one green sprig can we find to indicate this was ever intended by man to inhabit.  Indeed I cannot imagine that God ever intended for white man to occupy such a barren waste.”

Fort Phantom Hill is mostly in ruins now. There are two buildings intact and many more cactus covered chimneys. The afternoon sun actually made the fort pretty inviting!

Here’s a link to the fort’s history. It includes an explanation of the wonderful name “Phantom Hill.”