Living History at Fort Griffin

By Will Cradduck, Fort Griffin Herd Manager

White-spotted calf and brown-spotted calfIt is springtime again at Fort Griffin State Historic Site, and I am reminded just how many living things we have here at the fort that are a part of our history.

Our longhorn herd is having calves again, which is always a fun time of year for us. A friend of mine said looking for new calves was like looking for Easter eggs—they are always colorful and you never know what color you will find hidden in the grass next! Longhorn cattle from the state herd have been having calves at Fort Griffin every spring since 1948, but there were longhorns and their calves around this area of the Great Western Trail as early as the 1600s.

Red, orange, and yellow wildflowers in bloomThanks to our recent rains, wildflowers are blooming on hillsides and along creeks as they have for thousands of years. The Indian blanket and purple verbena are especially showy this year.

Longhorns lounging underneath a big oak treeMany of the big live oaks along Mill Creek have put on their new growth for the spring, even with the cool nights lately. Some of these trees were definitely around when the military still occupied Fort Griffin, and the Flat was a busy place of commerce. If they could only talk, these trees could tell many stories of cowboys and herds of cattle resting beneath their branches on their way up the trail. Based on their size and shape, I think some of these old oaks may have even been here before the first longhorn cattle wandered into this part of Texas.

Longhorn and calfWhen you visit Fort Griffin, enjoy the signs and structures that tell the story of a time long past, but make sure to take some time to appreciate the living history all around you.

Fort Griffin State Historic Site is located 15 miles north of Albany on U.S. Hwy. 283, in the Texas Forts Trail Region.

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I took a picture a few years back of the momma longhorn that is at the bottom of this article with a brown headed and mostly white body baby. When I saw her to take the picture I have, she had a baby that looked just like her. So neat to see another generation.

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