In 1851-52, in a major reorganization of the frontier defense system, the U.S. Army built a line of 7 forts between the Red River and the Rio Grande to protect the scattered remote settlements and travel routes to California. On Nov. 14, 1851, Fort Phantom Hill was established near present Abilene (120 mi. NW) by Col. J.J. Abercrombie and the 5th Infantry.
The Phantom Hill Road, the vital transportation and communication link between the fort and military headquarters at Austin (80 mi. SE), was the first road in Lampasas County, and crossed at this site. Supply trains of up to 24 wagons drawn by mules, horses, and oxen passed along this route to the frontier fort. The road was used primarily by the military until the abandonment of Fort Phantom Hill on April 6, 1854, but also served as a thoroughfare for early settlers entering the region and continued in that capacity until after the Civil War.
About 1870, traffic passing through the area was diverted to the Senterfitt Stage Station (1.5 mi. SW), and this section of the road abandoned. Several isolated segments of the Phantom Hill Road remain in use in the county, and physical evidence of the Emy's Creek Crossing (200 yards south) still exists.