Fort Colorado: A Texas Ranger Frontier
Outpost in Travis County, Texas
WILLIAM T. FIELD*
IMITED ARCHEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION WAS CONDUCTED DURING THE
summer of 1965 at the summit of a small knoll adjacent to the
old settlement of Fort Prairie in Travis County.' The immediate site
area, traditionally considered to have been the location of a Texas
Ranger fort from 1836 to 1838, and known variously as Fort Colorado,
Fort Coleman, and Coleman's Fort, is situated one mile east of
Austin's city limits, and just north of Farm-to-Market Road 969.'
Because of the unique nature of the site as well as of the char-
acter of the historical background concerning the fort itself, the
project evolved into a productive program of interdisciplinary re-
search, combining elements of history and anthropology, for the accu-
mulation of required data. It is worthwhile to note that within the
past several decades an increasing number of similar operations have
been developed on a nationwide basis. Representative projects com-
prise an impressive roster of familiar landmarks including Colonial
Williamsburg and Jamestown, Virginia; Fort Frederica, Georgia;
Fort Michilimackinac, Michigan; and Washington-on-the-Brazos, San
Lorenzo de la Santa Cruz, and Spanish Fort, Texas.'
*Mr. Field is technical staff assistant, Texas Memorial Museum, Austin.
1W. W. Newcomb, Director, Texas Memorial Museum, made available necessary
equipment for excavation and with the following individuals contributed wise council
concerning problems, assumed and real, of the excavation: Professors T. N. Campbell
and E. Mott Davis, Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin, and
Dr. Dee Ann Story, Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, Balcones Research Center,
University of Texas at Austin.
Mrs. Jessie McIlroy Smith, chairman of the Travis County Historical Survey Com-
mittee, was responsible for the initiation of archeological investigation and provided
material means for its continuance. Charles Childers, James Corbin, James Davis, Leland
Davis, Lowell Eck, Diane Hughes, David Ing, Mark Parsons, Harry Shafer, and Joe
Shafer accomplished much of the actual digging, map-making, photographing, and other
chores of the project. Excavation was under the general supervision of the author, as-
sisted by State Archeologist Curtis Tunnell, then Curator of Anthropology, Texas
"In 1936 the Texas Centennial Commission placed a stone marker at the site bearing
an inscription identifying it as the location of Fort Colorado from June, 1836, to Novem-
ber, 1838. In 1965 the stone marker was relocated Zoo yards south-southwest of its
original position to the southern edge of Highway 969, a short distance west of the
intersection with the old Webberville Road.
'See Jean Carl Harrington, Archeology and the Historical Society (Nashville, 1965),
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 72, July 1968 - April, 1969. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117146/. Accessed December 26, 2014.