Fort Stockton is a city in Pecos County, Texas, United States. It is the county seat of Pecos County, located on Interstate Highway 10, U.S. Highways 67, 285, and 385, and the Santa Fe Railroad, northwest of San Antonio and east of El Paso.
The population was 8,535 at the 2010 census.
Fort Stockton (named Camp Stockton until 1860) grew up around Comanche Springs, one of the largest sources of spring water in Texas, and near the military fort founded in 1859 and named for Robert Field Stockton. Comanche Springs was a favorite rest stop on the Great Comanche Trail to Chihuahua, San Antonio-El Paso Road, the Butterfield Overland Mail Route.
In 1861, the fort was garrisoned by 39 men of Company C, 8th Infantry, under the command of Capt. Arthur Tracy Lee, who evacuated the fort by April. The Confederates took possession of the fort on 9 May by Charles L. Pyron at the outbreak of the Civil War, but soon turned command over to Capt. William C. Adams. With the failure of John Baylor's invasion of New Mexico, a general evacuation of West Texas occurred in 1862.
In 1867, the Army rebuilt the fort on a larger and more permanent basis. Other forts in the frontier fort system were Forts Griffin, Concho, Belknap, Chadbourne, Richardson, Davis, Bliss, McKavett, Clark, McIntosh, Inge, and Phantom Hill in Texas, and Fort Sill in Oklahoma. "Sub posts or intermediate stations" also were used, including Bothwick's Station on Salt Creek between Fort Richardson and Fort Belknap, Camp Wichita near Buffalo Springs between Fort Richardson and Red River Station, and Mountain Pass between Fort Concho and Fort Griffin.
On 21 July 1867, Fort Stockton was reoccupied by Companies A, B, E, and K of the 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, buffalo soldiers under the command of General Edward Hatch, while a new fort was built one-half mile north of the first post, on the west side of the creek. Major James F. Wade took command of Troops A, B, D, and E, 9th Cavalry, and Company G, 41st Infantry, on 2 Oct. 1868. Lt. Col. Wesley Merritt assumed command of Companies A and D, 9th Cavalry, G, 24th Infantry, and K, 25th Infantry in Feb. 1871. Major Zenas Randall Bliss assumed command on 15 May 1872. Troops B, G, and L, 10th Cavalry, and Companies A and I, 1st Infantry, under Lt. Col. J.F. Wade, were stationed at the fort when the Army decided to abandon it in 1882. Major George A. Purington was the last commander when the Army finally left on 27 June 1886.
By 1870, some settlers were using the water from the Pecos River for irrigation. Seven years later, irrigated farmland comprised , and by 1945, the total reached . After the military post was abandoned on June 30, 1886, and both the Texas and Pacific and the Southern Pacific railroads had bypassed it, Fort Stockton experienced a decline. By then, however, it was rapidly becoming the center for an extensive sheep- and cattle-ranching industry, and in 1926, the opening of the nearby Yates Oil Field brought on an economic boom. Fort Stockton was served by the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway.
Today, the original fort's guardhouse remains, and some of the officers' quarters have become private dwellings. Several other buildings of the fort have been refurbished to the 1880s. The refurbished fort site includes a row of officers' quarters, enlisted men's barracks, and the parade grounds. A museum and visitor's center can be found at the site. The history of the Fort Stockton area was chronicled by Clayton W. Williams, Sr. in his 1982 book, Texas' Last Frontier: Fort Stockton and the Trans-Pecos, 1861-1895.
Since the 1920s, Fort Stockton has experienced the economic boom-bust cycle of the petroleum industry. As of 2012, Fort Stockton is in a state of economic expansion as oilfield drilling and production has increased.
Fort Stockton is southwest of Midland International Airport. The town is within driving distance of the Big Bend country, including Big Bend National Park, , and the Big Bend Ranch State Park, , as well as the beautiful scenery of numerous "day drive" locations in the area.