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Fort Smith National Historic Site

Arksansas Valley, Arkansas

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Fort Smith National Historic Site

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  • Welcome to Fort Smith National Historic Site.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • Old Fort Smith.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • The state line between Arkansas and Indian territory, which was later annexed, becoming Oklahoma.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • A paved walking trail in Fort Smith National Historic Trail.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • The view toward the visitor center.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • Fort Smith officers' garden.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • Sweet peas in the garden at Fort Smith National Historic Site.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • A commissary at Fort Smith National Historic Site.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • Bass Reeves, the first black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • A Federal Court between 1872 and 1896. This judicial body presided over Indian Territory.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • The jail at Fort Smith National Historic Site.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • A jail cell at Fort Smith National Historic Site.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • Referred to as "hell on the border," the jail at Fort Smith National Historic Site held up to 50 men.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • The back of the gallows at Fort Smith National Historic Site.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • The gallows at Fort Smith National Historic Site where those sentenced to death were hanged.- Fort Smith National Historic Site
  • - Fort Smith National Historic Site
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Old Frisco train station. Historic site. Beautiful garden. Trail of Tears.
Cons: 
None.
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Region:
Arksansas Valley, AR
Access: 
Vehicle
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
General Day Use Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Contributor

Fort Smith is a historical place where archaeologists found remnants of a 19th-century fort set just above the Poteau and Arkansas rivers.

A new fort was built later that would serve as barracks, courthouse, and jail with gallows right outside the building where those arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death would be hanged. The court had jurisdiction over Indian Territory, and many of the people hanged in the gallows were Native Americans charged with killing white men "in cold blood." This building is now the visitor center, where you can watch an informational video, tour extensive exhibits, and purchase souvenirs at a gift shop.

The commissary building lies across the field from the visitor center. This is the oldest standing building in Fort Smith, built between 1838 and 1846, and it supplied military forts in Indian Territory during the Mexican War. An old Frisco train station, built in 1903, is on one side, and the officers' garden is on the other.

The entire park can be seen by walking a well-paved trail that is ADA accessible and that connects all areas of interest, including the Trail of Tears Overlook. This spot overlooks the river and commemorates the thousands who died on this long and painful journey from tribal lands in the south after the Indian Removal Act was signed in 1830. Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Muskogee, and Seminole people were forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands to reservation lands in Oklahoma. Nearly a quarter of the Cherokee forcibly removed, about 4,000 to 6,000 people, died along the way.

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