Other forts in the southwestern frontier fort system were Lancaster, Richardson, Concho, Belknap, Chadbourne, Stockton, Davis, Bliss, McKavett, Clark, McIntosh, Inge, and Phantom Hill in Texas, and Fort Sill in Oklahoma. There were "sub posts or intermediate stations" 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.
The original intent was to build permanent stone buildings, but throughout its 14-year existence, the fort retained a temporary appearance. Log houses called “picket” huts, tents, and rough frame structures were constructed as temporary shelter. The scarcity of materials, shortage of funds, and daily demands of military duty allowed for only six of the more than 90 buildings of the fort to be built completely of stone.
Although considerable time was spent building and maintaining the fort, the majority of the time was spent defending and patrolling the frontier. Capt. Adna Chaffee fought the Comanche in a successful engagement in March 1868.:74 Companies F, I, K, and L of the Sixth Cavalry were augmented when Lt. Col. S.B. Hayman's 17th Infantry arrived on 3 June 1868.:30
The fort served as a starting point for many expeditions headed westward, and for a time, it had a substantial settled community that built up around it, catering to passing wagon trains and military personnel who sought saloons for entertainment during their free or off-duty hours. It is northeast of Abilene (established after 1880), the seat of Taylor County.
By 1870, a very rough town called "The Flat" sprang up just north of Fort Griffin, which eventually became a stop-off point for cattle drives headed north to Dodge City, Kansas. During that time, several notable characters and gunfighters of the Old West drifted through, including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Dave Rudabaugh, and the brothers Bat and Jim Masterson. John Selman, who eventually became known for killing outlaw John Wesley Hardin, worked there and in surrounding counties as a deputy sheriff.