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Fort Smith National Historic Site - Fort Smith, Arkansas
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member gparkes
N 35° 23.285 W 094° 25.796
15S E 370130 N 3917019
Quick Description: Fort Smith has a long and diverse history, from a frontier fort established in 1817, to a Confederate fort, finishing its Federal usage as both a court over the Indian Territory and Federal Prison.
Location: Arkansas, United States
Date Posted: 11/16/2009 9:39:37 PM
Waymark Code: WM7P6N
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 5

Long Description:
In 1817, Fort Smith was established as a frontier fort, in particular to maintain the peace between the native Osage and the immigrating, mainly forced imigration, of the Cherokee. The original post was located just off of the Arkansas River. It included a stockade wall and several buildings. In 1824, the original fort was abandoned in favor of Fort Gibson, further into the Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, to be closer to the Osage.

In 1838, following intense political pressure, a new fort was established at Fort Smith. In an era that saw the end of fort walls, this fort too would see thick stone walls. Multiple buildings were errected including barracks for officers and enlisted and storage buildings.

Off an on throughout the early years of the American Civil War, Fort Smith was occupied by Confederate troops. The fort provided strategic opportunities for Northwestern Arkansas. On September 1, 1863, that defense would fall back to the south into Arkansas as Union troops under the command of General Steele took control of Fort Smith.

Fort Smith would remain with Federal troops until 1871, when an entirely new purpose would give new life to the post. The Indian Territory had fallen prey to lawlessness and a new Federal Court jurisdiction was founded in Fort Smith to oversee the turn to civility.

The most infamous of the judges that served here was Judge Isaac Parker. His forcefulness gained the judge the nickname as the "Hanging Judge." His service from 1874 to the end of the territorial court in 1896. During that time, 160 people were sentenced to hang, with 79 actually having the sentence carried out. This timeframe has made Fort Smith hold the most American Federal executions of any one place.

The original enlisted barracks were converted into a jail and courtroom for the territorial court. Today, these facilities remain, in a restored state for visitors to visit and understand the 19th century use of this important site in American History.
Type of site: Other Military Site

301 Parker Avenue
Fort Smith , AR USA

Phone Number: 479-783- 3961

Admission Charged: $5 or less

Website: [Web Link]

Driving Directions:
From I-40 west take Rogers Avenue. Go west on Rogers Avenue downtown. Go south on Fourth Street and turn west on Garland Avenue to reach the parking lot. From I-40 east exit at Roland and go six miles east on Highway 64 to downtown. After crossing the bridge over the Arkansas River, follow the directions from Fourth Street.

Visit Instructions:
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Recent Visits/Logs:
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