Texas Forts Trail Group Visits Fort Concho While Recreating Historic Drive
SAN ANGELO, TX – Yesterday evening, Texas Forts Trails members and participants stopped to visit Fort Concho in the middle of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of Texas Fort Trails. Their three-day adventure began and will end in Abilene from October 4-6.
Forts Trail was founded by Governor John Connally and the Texas Highway Department (now TXDOT) in 1968 and the route includes eight historic forts. Each of these sites played crucial roles in the history of our great state and nation.
The caravanners are recreating the entire 650 plus mile drive commemorating the same route the Governor and his wife took 50 years ago to dedicate the newly launched trails, although they completed it in just two days. The driving route tend to avoid interstates and sticks mostly to highways. The trails pass through 157 of Texas’ 254 counties. They were initially designed to encourage visitors to stay and see more of Texas with its bountiful sceaneries, history and culture.
“The communities have been great. We’re delighted that we can spend time here,” said Margaret Hoogstra, Executive Director of the Texas Forts Trail.
“The 50th Anniversary caravan is a wonderful way to call attention to the unique resources that exist in our state and especially within the Texas Forts Trail Region,” she said. “Texas is the only state with ten separate heritage tourism regions, and they are based on the loop driving trails created by Gov. Connally in 1968.”
They are also celebrating a 20th anniversary this year too. In the mid-1990s, heritage and cultural tourism was recognized as a significant component within the tourism industry. A heritage tourism initiative was approved by the Texas legislature and in 1998 the Texas Forts Trail was the first of Texas’ ten area trails to be approved.
“Heritage tourism is a proven economic driver in Texas,” said Hoogstra. “In small towns, history museums, historic sites, parks, and other destinations preserve a community’s stories and histories and attract travelers to stay longer and spend more.”
Today, the Texas Heritage Trails Program, which was recognized in 2005 with the President’s Preserve America award, educates travelers and promotes heritage tourism through the cooperative marketing, networking, training, and community support. It is a significant contributor to the $7 billion-plus annual economic impact of heritage tourism in Texas and the nearly $70 billion impact of travel and tourism overall.
After the group left Abilene, they drove south to Brownwood, west to San Angelo and will head back up north again to Buffalo Gap. Besides the forts, the drive includes folklore, local cuisine, trivia contests and a continuous game of I Spy with prizes to be awarded at the end each day. Fort Concho demonstrated a cannon fire, provided refreshments, a dinner meal, a special program, door prizes and trivia contests.
For more about the Texas Heritage Trails Program, visit www.thc.texas.gov/preserve/projects-and- programs/texas-heritage-trails.