Administrative History
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Over the past few years, attempts in producing an Administrative History for Fort Davis National Historic Site were inconclusive. That changed when I met Dr. Michael Welsh while in attendance at the 60th anniversary observance in August 1993 of White Sands National Monument. At the time, Dr. Welsh was finishing a similar volume for White Sands, and delivered the keynote address at the 60th anniversary ceremonies. Dr. Welsh impressed me with his grasp of the White Sands history, and I decided that he was the person needed to pull together the story of Fort Davis. Fortunately for Fort Davis, we were able to award him a contract to prepare the park's administrative history that follows.

The park's purpose in conducting this study was to tell the origins and development of Fort Davis National Historic Site from the time of its abandonment by the U.S. Army in 1891 until the present time. This study helps explain the reasons driving management decisions affecting the park under National Park Service (NPS) administration. It also places Fort Davis within the larger context of the community of Fort Davis, the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas, and relates the park to larger social, economic, and political issues of the United States.

In this study, Dr. Welsh captured the flavor of everything we wanted and desired as he moved through the chapters of time. The frank, personal interviews with those involved in the establishment, restoration, and preservation of the historic resources of Fort Davis have created a picture and dimension of the park that has not been seen in print. The extra research trips to Washington, DC, Fort Worth, Texas, and Denver, Colorado (not including the numerous visits to the park itself), allowed Michael to identify the story that made Fort Davis so special.

While Dr. Welsh had not visited this part of West Texas prior to initiating this contract, his wife's family has deep roots in the Davis Mountains and Permian Basin. I feel that the stories told to him by his wife, Cynthia, about her childhood memories of the area inspired Michael to a higher level. And, as Michael soon discovered, Fort Davis is indeed a very special place. If he teaches with the same degree of enthusiasm as he conducts research, his students are fortunate to have someone so excited about history. Dr. Welsh's study reflects his understanding of NPS operations and management goals, which must be balanced according to the fluctuating political mandates and regional values. In addition, his exhaustive research and synthesis of information gleaned from thousands of pages of reports and documents will help the park staff focus on present and future management decisions while providing an understanding of how the park became the place that it is.

On behalf of the park staff, I would like to extend our thanks to Dr. Welsh for his enthusiasm and desire to tell the Fort Davis National Historic Site story.

Jerry Yarbrough
January 1996

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Last Updated: 22-Apr-2002