Committee Working to Restore Fort Ringgold in Rio Grande City

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RIO GRANDE CITY – A group of local residents came together to restore an old piece of history in Rio Grande City.

Fort Ringgold was constructed after the Mexican War to protect people from Indian and bandit raids. Now 170 years later, it’s owned by the city’s school district.

It was established in 1848, closed down in 1944 and bought by the school district in 1948.

“These buildings used to be the old elementary schools, middle schools, junior high schools,” Ross Barrera said.

Members of the Revive Fort Ringgold Committee met at the old parade grounds in Rio Grande City. They’ve already set up plaques outlining some of the fort’s history and their mission.

Barrera said they want to fix and promote the historic building and, “eventually fix all the buildings for historic tourism and for the people of Rio Grande City.”

The fort’s old flagpole was already replaced with a huge one by the school district. They already completely renovated the Robert E. Lee House and a lot of the buildings, upgraded by the school district, are still in use. 

“We had such wonderful times here. My room was up there, third one from the right,” Mary Elia Ramos shared.

Ramos is a retired teacher and counselor.

“Taught many years here at Fort Ringgold, so I feel I am part-owner in this great historical place,” she said.

For many, the old campus brings back a lot of memories.

“We would go from one building on one end of the fort to the - say the football field, which is pretty far away and we only had five minutes to do all that,” Joel Garza remembered.

It’s the history, they said, that makes Fort Ringgold special.

“Now, we actually have a document that tells us what used to be there. And there are some photos in there that tell us what it used to look like,” Barrera said.

The committee mentioned it’s a five-year plan when the fort will also be celebrating its 175th birthday.

“We’re going to reseed the parade field to make it luscious green, so the community can come here and they can do festivals. They can have evening walks,” Barrera mentioned.

Ramos explained how Fort Ringgold was the center of the community. Even today, the campus is part of the historic tours offered by the city.

Barrera said he believes the establishment is a jewel and the committee will work to bring it back to life.