El Fortin del Cibolo, Texas, was constructed in 1857 as the headquarters of the vast ranching empire of Milton Faver. The heavily fortified structure was the first major outpost built between Fort Davis and the Rio Grande. Faver, who reportedly learned of natural springs in this area from Indians who traded at his general store in Presidio del Norte, eventually acquired vast acreage surrounding the springs, thereby controlling the only steady water source in the vicinity.
He built an irrigation system that supplied water for his immense vegetable gardens and peach orchard. Cibolo ranch crops supplied soldiers at Fort Davis and citizens of the nearby mining town of Shafter. El Fortin del Cibolo is a rare surviving example of a private fort in the Big Bend region. Reconstructed and restored based on archeological evidence and using hand labor, the one-story adobe, cottonwood, and cypress structure features a courtyard configuration with walls one to four feet thick; rounded towers at the northwest and southeast corners; gun ports; and wood drain spouts. Hand-built stone fences accentuate the fort’s primitive surroundings. It is one of the region’s most significant historic structures. It was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1992.
Today it is part of the Cibolo Creek Ranch, one of the oldest ranches in Texas. The Ranch now provides visitor accommodations, dining, event venues, hunting, guided tours, and other activities.
© Kathy Weiser, updated February 2020.