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Hudspeth County TX
Hudspeth County

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Hudspeth County, West Texas

31 17' 30" N, 105 51' 37" W (31.291667, -105.860278)
Highway 20 - just South of I-10
W of Sierra Blanca the county seat
52 miles SE of El Paso
67 miles W of Van Horn
Population: 1,750 (2010)

Fort Hancock Area Hotels › El Paso Hotels | Van Horn Hotels

Fort Hancock Tx Downtown
Downtown Fort Hancock
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2009
History in a Pecan Shell

Camp Rice/Fort Hancock

Fort Hancock had been established as Camp Rice in 1881 (See Camp Rice postmark below). After the death of Union Major General Winfield Scott Hancock in 1886, the post changed its name to honor the General, who was wounded at Gettysburg and was later the commander of the 5th Military Department (which included Texas).

Fort Hancock and Fort Quitman were both subposts to the "Mother Fort" of Fort Davis.

It was near what had been Ft. Quitman, but was reestablished in 1882 to be nearer to the Southern Pacific Railroad. It was one of the few forts in Texas to be purchased by the U.S. War Department.

The Handbook of Texas graciously supplies the purchase price of $2,370 - which answers the nagging question: What's a Fort Worth?" It became an independent post in 1884.

Hancock was frequently flooded by the Rio Grande despite small dams that had been built by the soldiers to prevent this. They also endured several fires before pulling out in 1895.

A town sprang up just East of the Fort and the post office opened in 1886, the year the Fort's name changed.

The town of Fort Hancock today has an estimated population of 400 and had its 15 minutes of fame recently, when it was mentioned as a border crossing point in the end of the movie "The Shawshank Redemption."
Old Camp Rice Marker
The old Camp Rice Marker
Photo Courtesy Jason Penney

Fort Hancock, Texas Landmarks:

Fort Hancock Area Hotels ›
El Paso Hotels | Van Horn Hotels
Ft Hancock Tx Church
Fort Hancock Church
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2009
See Texas Churches
Ft Hancock Tx Closed Store
A closed store
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2009
Ft Hancock Tx Closed Bank
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2009
Ft Hancock Tx Bank Ghost Sign
Bank of Sierra Blanca ghost sign
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2009
See Ghost Signs
Ft Hancock Tx Water Tank
Fort Hancock Water Tank
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2009
See Texas Water Towers
Ft Hancock Cemetery gate
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2009
Ft Hancock Cemetery
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, May 2009
See Texas Cemeteries
Photographer Jason Penney says today that while many fish can be caught here (catch and release), the pollution from the Rio Grande prohibits them being eaten.
fishing in Fort Hancock Texas
Water diverted from the Rio Grande
Photo Courtesy Jason Penney
Fort Hancock Texas store
The Fort Hancock Store
Photo Courtesy Jason Penney
Fort Hancock Texas entry
The Fort Hancock Port of Entry.
Photo Courtesy Jason Penney

Related article:

Indian Hot Springs

Lonesomeness Redefined -
Fort Hancock, "Fort Unworthy", Victorio's Secret, the Buffalo Soldier's graves and the skirmish that made them necessary.

Camp Rice TX info
Camp Rice TX 1885 Postmark
Cancelled cover with 1885 Camp Rice postmark
Courtesy The John J. Germann Collection
Hudspeth  County TX vintage map
Hudspeth County map showing Camp Rice/Ft. Hancock
Modification of Texas General Land Office 1920s map

Fort Hancock Texas Forum

  • Subject: Fort Hancock
    Like Marta Esparza I too am the granddaughter of Seferino and Felicitas Esparza. I remember that little red building well. My uncle Seferino Jr. used to run the store. I have fond memories of racing there between high school classes to get some candy. Prior to my grandfather buying the building it used to be a barber shop and also a place where Ms. Irby used to give piano lessons. My father still lives in the house behind that building.

    The other building pictured here (the long white building) was owned by Arturo and Maria Hernandez. My grandfather also bought a part of that building when I was young. My parents used to run a gas station on the right side of the building (if you are facing the building) when I was young. They would leave my brother and I to "mind the store" when we were both young. I remember pumping gas when I was 8 years old! Unheard of today for sure.

    Unfortunately I've lost contact with the majority of my dad's side of the family. I was much closer to my mom's side of the family. My mom's brother still owns the house in the middle of town that my grandmother lived in until 2004 when she passed away.

    I was married in the St. Teresa Catholic Church in 1988.

    I still go back at least every other year and have many wonderful memories of living in that small town atmosphere. I will always be a Mustang at heart no matter how long I've been away. I graduated in 1987 at the beginning of the football teams reign as 6 man football champions.

    I will look for vintage pictures of my grandmother and her family and upload.

    Many thanks! - Lorraine Esparza Fox, January 17, 2020

  • Subject: Fort Hancock
    My family is from Ft. Hancock. I saw your photo of an abandoned grocery store. It was one of my grandfather's stores. He had one that was called Esparza Grocery store but it has been torn down. The name of the store you have on your website was called Berta's Quickstop. It was named after my aunt and my grandparents only daughter. It burnt down and my family decided not to reopen the store after my grandmother's death. Thank you for bringing back old memories of my grandparents and of Ft. Hancock. - Marta Medina (Esparza), May 13, 2014

  • Fort Hancock Info Sought (prior to 1895)
    In looking for anything that someone may have written on Fort Hancock around 1885-95, I ran across your [magazine]. I got so caught up in reading other peoples' adventures with Texas/Oklahoma that I forgot what I was originally looking for. However, with a little pricking of the old gray matter I was able to recall my original purpose: Fort Hancock and to find information on land, weather conditions, and any other events of interest that may have gone on in the early days ...(PRIOR to 1895.)

    My grandmother, born 1844 in Norway, ended up at Fort Stockton as a lone woman with a 10 year old son in 1880. By 1885 she was moving to (Camp Rice) Fort Hancock and homesteading a piece of ground there. I have all the land descriptions but don't know how to locate the area short of traveling to Fort Hancock and looking at land records. I have tried finding information in the library but not really the kind I was looking for. If you or any of your readers can fill me in on the early years of the Fort and why a lone woman would want to end up there? Truly enjoy reading your articles and responses. - Bee Foutz, October 25, 2006

  • Thank you for the piece on Fort Hancock. I was raised there and can tell you that it is a great place to grow up. If you can dig up some more information on Fort Hancock, I'd like to read it. - Patricia W.

  • Just wanted to ditto Patricia W's sentiment on Ft. Hancock. My family was stationed there with the Border Patrol twice when I was a kid. Wonderful memories of incredible people makes living in this tiny town the most influential experience of my life. I think of you often. - Jan Penter

  • Take a road trip

    Fort Hancock, Texas Nearby Towns:
    Sierra Blanca the county seat
    Fabens | Tornillo | San Elizario
    Van Horn | El Paso

    See Hudspeth County | West Texas

    Book Hotel Here:
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