Fort Leaton State Historic Site



Fort Leaton Historic Site marker, surrounded by desert plants with the fort beyond.Located in Presidio County, Fort Leaton State Historic Site consists of 23.5 acres, five of which are the site of a trading post. The state acquired the park Dec. 8, 1967, from a private owner. It opened to the public in 1978.

A place of respite

View through a window hole at the rocky ridge in the distance. In 1848, Ben Leaton and his wife Juana Pedrasa built the fortified adobe structure to capitalize on travelers making the long, treacherous journey from Austin and San Antonio to Chihuahua and Mexico City. In the unforgiving Chihuahuan desert, Fort Leaton offered a place of rest and protection for those travelers, some military forces, and other traders in the region during tumultuous times.

Fort Leaton was open for business as the Mexican-American War ended. Tensions and conflict surrounded the site. Power struggles ebbed and flowed throughout the region as well as among the fort’s various inhabitants. It closed for business in 1884 and was abandoned in 1925.

Critical resources

The same qualities that drew Ben Leaton and Juana Pedrasa to the area have attracted countless others over many centuries.

The region is known as La Junta de los Rios, named for the nearby confluence of the Rio Conchos and Rio Grande. It provides two critical resources: water and fertile soils. Native American farmers raising corn, beans and squash lived here in permanent villages while conducting wide-ranging trade.

Over time, La Junta witnessed a flow of diverse cultures and individuals from all walks of life. Fort Leaton portrays the parade of the people and cultures that have lived in the La Junta region for thousands of years.