Cibolo, Fort of the Bison
The Cibolo Fort is situated in a rugged landscape along an intermittent creek. The creek and surrounding terrain drain a massive caldera — a volcanic crater — created 32 million years ago. Fed by natural springs, this geography was favorable for agriculture in an otherwise arid environment.
Constructed in 1857, El Fortin del Cibolo was the headquarters of a commercial enterprise operated by Milton Faver on the unsettled frontier. The heavily fortified structure was the first major outpost built between the neighborhood around Fort Davis (established in 1854) and the Rio Grande. Faver, who reportedly learned of natural springs in this area from Indians who traded at his general store in Presidio del Norte, eventually controlled vast acreage surrounding the springs by virtue of refusing a dependable supply of water to potential rivals. At Cibolo, he built an irrigation system that supplied water for his fields, vegetable gardens, and a peach orchard. Cibolo Ranch crops and peach brandy were sold to soldiers at Fort Davis and, later, to citizens of the nearby mining town of Shafter.
El Fortin del Cibolo is a rare surviving example of a private frontier fort. It was reconstructed and restored based on old photographs and archeological evidence and using considerable hand labor. The one-story adobe, cottonwood and cypress structure features a courtyard configuration with walls 2-4 feet thick, rounded towers at the northwest and southeast corners, gun ports and wood canales (drain spouts). Dry-stacked stone fences set the fort and adjoining hacienda apart from their mountainous and untamed surroundings.