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Home National & State Parks Other NPs Real Face of Medicine on the Texas Frontier Now on Exhibit at Fort Davis NHS

Real Face of Medicine on the Texas Frontier Now on Exhibit at Fort Davis NHS

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Explore what a visit to the doctor really was like on the frontier during the 1880s by making a trip to the Fort Davis National Historic Site in Texas.

Fort Davis is one of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars' frontier military post in the Southwest.

New exhibits in the fort's Post Hospital now give a realistic look at how medicine was practiced, including the medical equipment available at the time.

fortdavis01The National Park Service (NPS) staff at the fort, in partnership with the Friends of Fort Davis National Historic Site and the NPS Harper's Ferry Center, worked for over a year to assemble this display.

The Post Surgeon's Office is now completely furnished as a functional doctor's office of the 1880s. Visitors can see the examining table, medical instruments, and medications of the day, along with the physician's reference and diagnostic tools of the day: a skeleton, a microscope, and copious volumes of leather-bound books.

In the Hospital Steward's room, put yourself in the doctor's shoes. Check out the large interactive display of old-time medical instruments and what problems they treated, such as brain bleed or removal of tonsils. Nearby "The Wheel of Misfortune" game allows viewers to select a disease and try to guess what medication doctors commonly gave for that illness, such as mercury pills for consumption (TB).

These displays reveal case studies of actual patients treated at the fort, drawn from historical U.S. Army medical records in the National Archives. The exhibits offer park visitors knowledge of how medicine was practiced at the frontier army post of Fort Davis in the late 19th century. Bring the family to the fort to see this insightful display.

The new exhibits opened April 16, 2012. A generous grant of $25,000 provided to the Friends of Fort Davis by the Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation helped to finance the new exhibits.

The new exhibits were made possible by more than a five-year effort (2005-2009) of local volunteers, preservation workshops, and the NPS staff to restore the exhibit rooms.

From 1854 to 1891, Fort Davis was strategically located to protect emigrants, mail coaches, and freight wagons on the Trans-Pecos portion of the San Antonio-El Paso Road and on the Chihuahua Trail.

Open daily 8-5, Fort Davis is located 400 miles from San Antonio and 200 miles from El Paso. There is no lodging or camping in Fort Davis National Historic Site. Camping is available in the town of Fort Davis or the nearby Davis Mountains State Park. Lodging is available in the town of Fort Davis along with many restaurants.

For more information, visit the Website at
www.nps.gov/foda/ .

 
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