Howard's Well, marker placed at Fort Lancaster, 36 miles west of Ozona, was landmark of western travel.
First known to civilized men in the 18th century, when, according to legend, Franciscan Padre Alvarez prayed for water to ease his thirst, put down his staff, and saw a spring gush forth from the ground. This landmark of western travel was named for its rediscoverer, Richard A. Howard of San Antonio, an ex-Texas Ranger. Howard and other men, along with 15 Delaware Indian guides, made up an expedition sent out in 1848 under Col. John Coffee Hays to map a wagon road from San Antonio to El Paso. Although aided by the discovery of the well, the expedition failed, turning back in a state of near-starvation. In 1849 the US Army made its maps of the route, with Howard along as a guide. Many forty-niners went this way to the California gold rush. In 1853 the first regular San Antonio to El Paso mail line was routed by way of the well. So were many later ventures. Although white travelers seldom caught sight of them, Indians frequented the well. There on April 20, 1872, Comanches and Kiowas surprised a large wagon train led by a man named Gonzales, and killed 16 persons. This was one of the events that led to the US Government's cancellation of hunting permits for reservation Indians.