The Old West at Fort Smith
Fort Smith was home to the
court of Old West "Hanging
Judge" Isaac Parker.
Fort Smith and the Frontier
Established by the U.S. Army,
Fort Smith was a vital post on
the Western frontier.
Fort Smith, Arkansas - Historic Sites & Points of Interest - Historic Sites of Fort Smith, Arkansas - Historic Sites of Fort Smith, Arkansas
One of the most unique and historic cities in
America, Fort Smith was established on the
western border of Arkansas by the U.S. Army
more than 190 years ago.

The ruins of the original military post can still
be seen at the
Fort Smith National Historic
Site, which traces the evolution of the historic
garrison from frontier fort to the domain of
Hon. Isaac C. Parker, the famed "hanging
judge" of the Old West. It was from Fort Smith
that Parker's deputy marshals rode to bring
law and order to the West, a period of history
memorialized by such movies as John
True Grit and Rooster Cogburn and
Clint Eastwood's
Hang 'Em High. Fort Smith
also figured prominently in the miniseries
Lonesome Dove.

The original fort was built in 1817 to maintain
peace between the Osage and Cherokee
Indians. The Osage resented the arrival of
the newcomers, who were being slowly
driven from their homes in the East. As the
frontier moved west, Fort Smith became an
important supply point for the U.S. Army as it
extended its reach west across the continent.

A major stop on the Trail of Tears, the fort
looked across the Arkansas River at the
Choctaw and Cherokee Nations. An overlook
at the national historic site helps interpret
this phase of Fort Smith's history.

The modern city of Fort Smith began as a
small village that grew up around the post. In
1849 it experienced dramatic growth due to
its status as a departure point for those
headed west during the California gold rush.

The city and fort were much fought over
during the Civil War. Fort Smith was held first
by Confederates, but was seized by the
Union army in 1863 and held by Federal
troops for the duration of the war. The scene
of one battle fought in the area is preserved
today at the city's
Massard Prairie Battlefield

In the years after the Civil War, outlaws from
across the country made their way into the
Indian Nations bordering Fort Smith. They
terrorized the peaceful inhabitants of the
Nations and overwhelmed the capabilities of
area law enforcement. This led to the naming
of Judge Parker as the U.S. District Judge for
the Western District of Arkansas. He would
hang more outlaws than any other federal
judge in American history. Parker's presence
remains very real in Fort Smith today. He is
buried at Fort Smith National Cemetery, his
gallows stand once again and the graves of
both outlaws and lawmen can be seen at the
city's historic Oak Cemetery.
Historic Fort Smith, Arkansas
The gateway to the Old West, Fort Smith offers an
impressive array of historic sites.
Home of the "Hanging Judge"
The Civil War in Arkansas
Numerous Civil War sites can
be found in and around Fort
Smith, including the Massard
Prairie Battlefield.
Belle Grove Historic District
Covering 22 blocks, Fort
Smith's Belle Grove Historic
District features dozens of
restored homes.
Today Fort Smith is the second largest city in
Arkansas and boasts an impressive array of
historic sites, museums, restaurants and
other attractions. It has one of the best small
airports in the nation and is a great gateway
to historic sites and stunning scenery.
Copyright 2010 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Custom Search