Fort Sam Houston

San Antonio

'Fort Sam' – as it's known 'round here – is ready to enlist you for a little military history. Its claims to fame? The Apache chief Geronimo was held here for 40 days, and it was also the site of the first military flight in US history, in 1910. And it's home to several historic buildings with designated museums. You'll need a photo ID to enter the grounds of the base.

The oldest building at Fort Sam (and Geronimo's short-term residence) is the Quadrangle, built in 1876. Today the Quadrangle is open to the public, and it leads through to a sort of petting zoo: deer have been kept here for more than 100 years, and rabbits, ducks and chickens abound. It's also home to the Fort Sam Houston Museum, where you can learn more about the history of the fort and the soldiers once stationed here.

In the northeast section of the grounds, the US Army Medical Department Museum has a display of army medical gear from the US and several other countries, including Germany, the former Soviet Union, Vietnam and China, and a cool collection of restored ambulances, helicopters and a hospital rail car. But what makes it really worth the trip is the collection of Civil War surgical gear, notably the disturbing saws and portable amputation kits.

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