Introduction to Fort Smith, Arkansas
Fort Smith is situated in the River Valley in northwest Arkansas in Sebastian County. It's near the junction of Arkansas and the Poteau rivers and is close to the border with Oklahoma. The city is known for having been a significant factor in the settling of the "Wild West."
Fort Smith was established in 1817 as a military base to watch over the nearby Indian Territory. In 1824 the fort was no longer utilized, however a community established by John Rogers had grown and thrived near the fort. It was once again occupied and then abandoned but the city continued to flourish without the active fort. In 1874 William Henry Harrison Clayton was given the title of United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. Fort Smith was well known as a town filled with brothels, criminals and saloons. William Clayton brought in Judge Isaac Parker to establish law and order for the area. He soon became known as the "Hanging Judge" due to hanging six people he convicted of murder in one day. During his career he sentenced 160 convicted people to die by hanging. However, 79 of the group were actually hanged.
The city is home to the Fort Smith Regional Airport. Bus transportation is provided by Fort Smith Transit.
- The Vaughn-Schapp House showcases paintings, sculptures and other types of art.
- Fort Smith Riverfront Blues Fest is a noteworthy event featuring prominent musicians.
- Fort Smith Symphony.
- Riverfront Amphitheater.
- Fort Smith Convention Center.
- Fort Smith Jazz Festival.
- Old Fort Days Rodeo is one of the prominent rodeos in the country.
- Fort Smith Air show.
- Fort Smith National Historic Site includes the restored courtroom of the famous Hanging Judge Isaac Parker and the local jail.
- Fort Smith Museum of History has noteworthy exhibits.
- Belle Grove Historic District contains numerous historic homes featuring a variety of architectural styles.
- Miss Laura's Social Club was formerly a brothel and is included in the National Register of Historic Places.
- Fort Chaffee.
- Ed Walker's Restaurant.
- Fort Smith Trolley Museum.
- The Darby House.
- Fort Smith Air Museum.
- Clayton House.
- Bonneville House.
- Alfonso Trent House.
- John Rogers Home.
White water rafting is popular in the numerous mountain streams. Excellent fishing opportunities are available in the nearby streams and lakes. Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy the White Rock area and Mount Magazine. The Fort Smith region is notable for bird watching.
The city is home to the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. Satellite campuses of John Brown University and Webster University are located in the city.