Forts Trail Region

It’s a switch for a frontier town to change its name from Bronco to Bronte (after the English novelist Charlotte Bronte). But Bronte it was for the high-minded cattle ranchers who established the town in 1889. The railroad arrived a decade later, and the 1911 Bronte Depot still stands, restored as a Masonic lodge. Bronte’s main claim to fame lies 12 miles north at Fort Chadbourne. The U.S. Army built the garrison in 1852 to protect settlers and travelers on the Butterfield Overland Mail stage route. The fort housed Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, before the Army abandoned it in 1868. Six historic structures have been restored, including the state’s only restoration of a Butterfield Overland Mail stage stop. Other restored structures include a company barracks and an officer’s quarters where interior plaster walls bear graffiti from the 1870s. A 12,500-square-foot visitors and research center displays some of the fort’s half-million artifacts. The center also sports an antique gun collection, old saloon, stagecoach and Medal of Honor exhibit. The annual Fort Chadbourne Days (the last weekend of May) attracts visitors who view reenactors replicating frontier life.