Fort Graham, Texas, was established in March 1849 by Major Ripley A. Arnold and the 2nd U.S. Dragoons. It was named after either James D. Graham of the Corps of Topographical Engineers or Lieutenant Colonel William M. Graham, who was killed in the Mexican-American War.
Located near the eastern bank of the Brazos River at Little Bear Creek, 14 miles west of present-day Hillsboro, the fort was one of eight established after the Mexican War to establish Federal authority in the new territory. The soldiers built several log and clapboard structures, including a commissary, officers’ quarters, and a stable. Civilians were hired to build a hospital, a carpenter and wheelwright shop, a blacksmith shop, three corncribs, a wagon and mule yard, and a quartermaster’s storehouse.
The troops were tasked with escorting supply trains and travelers and protecting civilians from hostile Indians. Because of its location on the upper frontier, close to the camps and villages of several Indian bands, it quickly became important as a frontier “listening post,” reporting on Indian activities and serving as headquarters for several Indian agents.
By 1851, more buildings were added to the fort, including two sets of quarters, a log house for the commanding officer, a second stable, a guardhouse, a bakery, and a powder magazine. However, just two years later, as the frontier moved further west, the location ceased to be strategic. The post was closed in November 1853.
In 1936, the state bought the site and reconstructed the barracks. However, the site was flooded when Lake Whitney was built in the 1970s. It was rebuilt once again on higher ground and now serves as a museum in Old Fort Park, about seven miles northwest of Whitney, Texas.
© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated November 2022.