Fort Leaton, Texas

Fort Leaton, Texas by Kathy Alexander.

Fort Leaton, Texas, by Kathy Alexander.

Fort Leaton, Texas, also called Old Fortin and El Fortín was built on a bluff overlooking the Rio Grande along the Chihuahua Trail. Before the establishment of Fort Leaton, an old Spanish residence had been built at the same location in 1773.

In 1848, a farmer named Ben Leaton bought the property and established Fort Leaton as his home, trading post, and private fort. The private citadel was built of adobe bricks in an L-shape, with the long side parallel to the river. A large barn was also built with large doors, allowing teams and wagons to drive inside.

Due to its remote location, the private fort was utilized by civilians, and during the building of Fort Davis; the Army made Fort Leaton its unofficial headquarters. When Fort Davis was completed, some 80 miles to the north, the troops still utilized Fort Leaton as an outpost for military patrols.

Though the area was fraught with Indians, there was never an attack made on the civilian post. One reason was that Leaton was suspected of trading guns with the Indians. However, before any charges could be brought against him, he died in 1851. Afterward, his widow, facing large debts, lost the farm to John Burgess, who held the mortgage. Burgess then lived there until Leaton’s son Bill killed him in 1875.

Interior of Fort Leaton, Texas by Kathy Alexander.

Interior of Fort Leaton, Texas by Kathy Alexander.

The fort then stood abandoned and began to deteriorate. In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration restored portions of the fort. The land and buildings have become the Fort Leaton State Historic Site. It is located on Farm Road 170, five miles southeast of Presidio, Texas.

Contact Information:

Fort Leaton State Historic Site
PO Box 2319
Presidio, Texas 79845

© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated March 2023.

Also See:

Forts & Presidios Photo Gallery

Texas Forts of the Old West

Texas Forts Trail

Texas – The Lone Star State