Fort Washita is the former United States military post and National Historic Landmark located in Durant, Oklahoma on SH 199. Established in 1842 by General (later President) Zachary Taylor to protect citizens of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations from the Plains Indians it was later abandoned by Federal forces at the beginning of the American Civil War. Confederate troops held the post until the end of the war when they burned the remaining structures. It was never reoccupied by the United States military. After years in private hands the Oklahoma Historical Society bought the fort grounds in 1962 and restored the site. Today the Fort Washita Historic Site and Museum is a tourist attraction and hosts several events throughout the year.
National Historic Landmark:
In the 1960s there was a renewed interest in Oklahoma's Historical Sites. The Oklahoma Historical Society was able to determine that at the Fort Washita site there were 86 structures, 50 foundations and 2 structures still standing.
Ward S. Merrick Sr. of Ardmore, Oklahoma contributed funds to the Oklahoma Historical Society for the purchase of the site from the Colbert family in 1962. At the time, William "Buck" Loper and his wife, Lela, lived in the current park headquarters. During the sale of the property to the Historical Society, the Colberts allowed the Lopers to stay until their death around 1963. They are both buried in the fort cemetery. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965 and in 1967 the Oklahoma State Legislature approved $10,000 for the reconstruction and restoration of the fort's grounds. In 1971 the Oklahoma Historical Society conducted an archeological dig and rebuilt the south barracks.
Today the Fort Washita site is home to Fort Washita Historic Site and Museum, Civil War reenactments, and a yearly Fur Trade Rendezvous.
On September 26, 2010, the reconstructed South Barracks was destroyed by fire.