Jeff Davis
Big Bend
2010 Census - 1,201
2000 Census - 1,050
Fort Davis, Texas
Fort Davis Texas History:
Fort Davis is located in the Big Bend Region of West Texas near the McDonald Observatory. At just over 5,000 feet above sea level, it is the highest town in Texas and offers milder summer weather than other Texas areas. In 1850, Henry Skillman received a contract to carry the mal from San Antonio to El Paso. A stage stop was established at the current Fort Davis townsite. Belgian immigrant Diedrick Dutchover rode as a stagecoach guard for two years before settling in the station area. The fort of the Fort Davis National Historic Site was established in 1854; the town of Fort Davis grew up around the fort. During the Civil War (1861-1865), Confederate troops occupied the fort for a period of time. When they withdrew from the fort, they left Dutchover, who had maintained strict neutrality while establishing a small sheep ranch near the post, in charge. Almost immediately the Apache chief Nicolás attacked the settlement. Dutchover and seven others hid on the roof for three days while the Apaches looted the fort. On the third night Dutchover and all the others slipped away and walked to Presidio, eighty miles away. After 1867, American cavalry troops occupied the fort, providing protection to the town. Fort Davis began to grow and became important as a base for travelers and hunters. By the 1880s, Fort Davis had become a commercial center for area cattle ranchers. By the early 1890s, the army abandoned the fort and the town’s population fell to an estimated 1,200. It began growing in the early 1900s. By 1900, Fort Davis’s mild summer weather had made it a popular summer vacation site for wealthy Gulf Coast families. Around 1908, the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway proposed building a line to Fort Davis, but the locals protested that it would attract low-class people, and the line was never built. The Fort Davis National Historic Site, the Fort Davis State Park, the McDonald Observatory, and the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute make tourism an important part of the Fort Davis economy. Fort Davis is located at the intersection of SH 118 and SH 17, 36 miles south of IH-10, approximately 100 miles north of Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park, 36.8 miles southwest of Balmorhea, 54 miles northwest of Marathon, 23.8 miles northwest of Alpine, 21 miles northeast of Marfa, and 89 miles southeast of Van Horn, Texas.
Fort Davis Historic Walking Tour:
Click on the above link for a pamphlet detailing the tour, or pick up a tour map from the Fort Davis Chamber of Commerce. (800) 524-3015. (432) 426-3015. #4 Memorial Square, Fort Davis, TX 79734. Email
Jeff Davis County Courthouse, 1910:
The stone and concrete courthouse was designed in classical revival style with a beaux-arts style clock tower by Dallas architects L.L. Thurmon & Company. The courthouse lawn features a memorial to Sgt. Manuel Gonzales, "Fort Davis' One-Man Army" who won a Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart for his actions at Salerno and Monte Casino during the invasion of Italy.” The Fort Davis Chamber of Commerce (and Visitor Center) is located across the street from the Courthouse behind the Fort Davis State Bank. The 2010 Jeff Davis County census was 2,342. (432) 426-3968. 101 State Street  
Jeff Davis County Jail, 1910:
The jail was built at the same time as the courthouse. It is located south of the courthouse.