Forts Trail Region

Wide-open spaces and potable water brought Native Americans, buffalo hunters and ranchers to these rolling prairies and plateaus. Sweetwater became the seat of Nolan County in 1881 just as the first railroad arrived, turning the fledgling town into a cattle and, later, cotton shipping center. Downtown’s commercial historic district testifies to those early 20th century boom years, boasting more than 50 National Register-listed structures. Find more fascinating history at the Pioneer Museum, housed in a 1906 Texas Historical Landmark home. The museum’s dozen-plus display rooms retell county history through photographs, farm and ranch implements and Native American artifacts. Wide-open spaces also led the U.S. Army Air Forces to turn the local airport into Avenger Field, which during World War II served as the only all-female air base in history. More than 1,000 Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) trained on every kind of U.S. warbird and eventually flew 60 million miles of stateside non-combat duty, freeing male pilots for overseas combat missions. The airfield’s 1929 Hangar One now houses the National WASP WWII Museum to honor those pioneering women aviators.