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Camp Melvin

Julia Cauble Smith General

Camp Melvin, a little-known temporary outpost, was established in 1868 on the Pecos River two miles west of what is now State Highway 349 in northwestern Crockett County. The site was called by twenty-four different names between 1864 and 1926: San Pantaleon, Connelley's Crossing, Camp Melbourne, Fennelly's Crossing, Pecos Crossing, Camp Melvin, Camp Milvin, Pecos River Station, Mail Station, Mail Station Bridge, Pecos Mail Station, Melvin Station, Melvin Mail Station, Ficklin, Crossing of the Pecos Station, Crossing of the Pecos, Pecos Crossing Bridge, Pecos Bridge, Pecos Stage Station, Pecos Station, Pontoon Bridge Crossing, Pontoon Crossing, Mail Station at Pecos, and Pontoon Bridge. The site was more significant as a river crossing than as a military installation. On May 22, 1684, Juan Domínguez de Mendoza crossed the river there. His expedition camped at the crossing, and Mendoza called it San Pantaleon. In 1840 Dr. Henry Connelly returned to Chihuahua after a trading trip to North Texas and crossed at the point. Camp Melvin operated as an outpost of Fort Lancaster from 1868 to 1871 on the Government Road from San Antonio to El Paso. A post office operated at the crossing from 1868 to 1870. From 1868 to 1881 stagecoaches crossed the Pecos at the site, and the stage company maintained a station there. By 1871 the number of soldiers at the camp had been reduced to a few men. The crossing was dangerous since it was subject to Comanche attack. In July 1873 Juan Chabavilla was killed by a raiding party of thirteen Indians that stole the horses and mules of the stage company. Indians attacked the place again on June 2, 1874, wounded the owner of the nearby Torres Ranch, and took his thirty-five horses and mules. In October 1875 only two soldiers were stationed at the former outpost to protect stage-company mules. On June 27, 1878, five Indians fired upon the stage five miles beyond the crossing. A passenger was seriously injured.

In 1882 the crossing was labeled Mail Station on a map. Between 1892 and 1926 the site was called Pontoon Crossing. After 1926 no map designation was given the point. By 1960 the only remnants of Camp Melvin were several crumbling walls of former buildings and a stone corral.

Grover C. Ramsey, "Camp Melvin, Crockett County, Texas," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 37 (1961). Roy L. Swift and Leavitt Corning, Jr., Three Roads to Chihuahua (Austin: Eakin Press, 1988).

Time Periods:

  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Reconstruction

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Julia Cauble Smith, “Camp Melvin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 25, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.