Local History

On the north shore of the Washita arm of Lake Texoma in northwestern Bryan County lies the partially restored ruins of old Fort Washita. The frontier military post was built on a site selected and named by Gen. Zachary Taylor, who became the first post commander in 1843, and later president of the United States. The fort was garrisoned by United States troops until May 1, 1861, when it was abandoned to Confederate forces. Although Fort Washita was not used as a military establishment after the Civil War, the post office continued in operation until 1880. The site is kept open to the public by the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Bronze plaques mark several of the watering stops in the Lake Texoma area that were used to change horses or to pick up mail when the 2,796-mile-long Overland Butterfield Stagecoach Line was in existence.

The Chisholm and Shawnee trails, over which cattle were driven through Texas and Oklahoma to the markets in Kansas, also crossed this area. Just below Denison Dam is the old Colbert's crossing, which later became a ferry, and later yet, a toll bridge. It was an early day crossing for Indians, military expeditions, outlaw gangs, Texas road freights, and prairie schooners.

In Denison, a President of the United States was born in a white gabled two-story house by the side of a railroad track on October 14,1890. He was Dwight D. Eisenhower whose birthplace has been restored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Departments.

In the Preston Bend area, beside the relocated Preston Cemetery, a granite marker commemorates the Indian Trading Post established in 1837 by Holland Coffee and is now submerged by Lake Texoma.

Tishomingo boasts the last capitol of the old Chickasaw Nation, a native granite building of Victorian architecture standing on top of a hill Adjacent to the capitol is the Chickasaw Council House Museum dating for 1856. Close at hand are the ruins of the Chickasaw Male Academy established in 1850. Also located near Tishomingo at Emet, Oklahoma is the "Chickasaw White House". It was once considered a mansion on the frontier. It was home to Chickasaw Governor Douglas Hancock Johnston and his family from 1898 to 1971.

At the west edge of Kingston is the Camp Leavenworth marker erected in memory of the ill-fated expedition of 1834 made of the Dragoon Regiment. The site of Camp Leavenworth (probably about 4 miles south of the marker is now inundated by Lake Texoma).

In Durant, first settled by the Choctaw family of that name in 1870, you may see some of the early day galleried residences with high ceilings and big windows which reflect the influence of the old southern plantation owners' townhouses. These are characteristics of many fine old southern home, which settlers built up and down the valley.