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Welcome to Fort Davis Observatory
Locate in the Davis Mountains, Elevation 6,300'

Phone: 432-426-3881







Southern View

Southern view from our front porch, there is a 500 drop off 200 ft. in front of the tree


Our Cat Pleadese
Mother and Baby deers


audadbuck   javelin

Buck Audad

Javaline Pigs

Fort Davis Texas

Volcanic eruptions formed the Davis Mountains during the Tertiary geologic period between 35 and 65 million years ago. The Davis Mountains are a part of the most southeastern range of the Rocky Mountains in the United States.

The earliest human habitation discovered so far is about 7000 BC. Numerous caves and rock shelters with rock art have been found, and anthropologists think many archeological sites may remain undiscovered in remote mountain areas. Indeed, the water and game of the high country made the mountains popular with Lipan and Mescalero Apache, also the Kiowa and the Comanche. The mountains get their name from the Fort Davis military post, before that they were known as the Apache Mountains.

The first Spanish expedition through what is now, Fort Davis came in 1583; a second group followed 100 years later. Few Americans, had seen the Davis Mountains prior to end of the war with Mexico in 1846. After the war with Mexico, as west Texas settlements increased, and a wave of gold seekers, settlers, and traders came through the area, the need for a military post soon became evident. As raiding along the San Antonio-El Paso Trail became a way of life for Apaches, Kiowas, and Comanches. From 1859 to 1861, Butterfield Overland Stage Line and Mail Company coaches transported mail to California linking St. Louis, San Antonio, Fort Davis and El Paso. The route used by the company quickly became known as part of the Overland Trail with Fort Davis serving as a major stopping point.

Because of the inscriptions left on the giant cottonwoods by the native americans who traveled through here, the Fort Davis area was initially known to many immigrant parties as the Painted Comanche Camp or The Painted Camp on the Limpia. As the post grew, several settlements near and adjacent to the fort developed. The small nearby settlements along Limpia Creek boasted about 70 residents (Limpia means "clear or clean" in Spanish--and the water in the creek is still probably some of the cleanest in Texas). It became the town and took its name from the post, named after the then Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, (later on he was to become the president of the Confederacy). With the outbreak of the Civil War, the Union abandoned Fort Davis. Briefly occupied by Confederate forces, then for the next five years the military post of Fort Davis lay abandoned.

In 1867, because of continuing bandit, Apache and Comanche raids along the Overland Trail the Army reestablished the post. African American troops of the Ninth U.S. Cavalry, one of two all black cavalry regiments organized in 1866 (later to be known by their designation by the Indians as "Buffalo Soldiers") immediately began construction of a new post just east of the original site.

The westward expansion of the railroads missed Fort Davis, but linked nearby Alpine and Marfa with larger cities. Thus, they became the commercial centers of the area. In 1891, the military post of Fort Davis was closed and the town of Fort Davis evolved into a ranching and tourism center. By the early 1900s, well-to-do Texans escaping the heat and humidity of the coast, Hill Country and East Texas came by the hundreds thirsty for the majestic desert vistas, pure mountain air, star-bright nights and friendly inhabitants.

After closing, the fort's dignified adobe and stone buildings slowly deteriorated under private ownership. In 1961, thanks to the efforts of the Fort Davis Historical Society and area residents, Fort Davis was designated a National Historic Site, operated by the National Park Service. In 1963, the Fort Davis National Historic Site opened to the public year round except on Christmas Day.

Today, ranching and tourism still reigns, but Fort Davis is also known as the "Highest Town in Texas Where the Stars Come Out to Play." Located here is the University of Texas, McDonald Observatory, the observatory hosts the 107" Harlan J. Smith telescope located atop 6800 feet Mt. Locke and the Hobby-Ebberly Telescope (HET) containing the World's third largest mirror (433") made up of ninety-one 40-inch mirror segments on adjacent Mt. Fowlkes. Our unspoiled vistas have made us a film making location "Lonesome Dove," "The Good Old Boys," "The Streets of Laredo," "Dead Man's Walk," and most recently. "Dancer, Texas, Pop: 81." We are the host to four of the world's largest greenhouses at 26 acres each and--perhaps most significantly--as one of the last unspoiled places in the great State of Texas