The scrappy border town of Fort Smith, Arkansas emerged around the area’s first frontier fort, established in 1817, which promoted peace between Native America's warring Osage and Cherokee tribes. Perched on a bluff that overlooks the Arkansas River, visitors will find the remains of the first fort at the Fort Smith National Historic Site . Here, visitors can explore the history of the Trail of Tears and Civil War in Arkansas.
Visitors can take a step back in time on the very spot where the first military outpost was built in 1817
. On the grounds nearby is a replica of the famed Fort Smith gallows
where 80 men were hanged by Hanging Judge Parker
and his Prince of Hangmen. The fully-restored courtroom of Judge Parker
and early frontier jail known as “Hell on the Border”
are housed in the renovated barracks building, which also houses the site's Visitor Center. Visitors can enjoy an interpretation of the area's Native American history and view displays highlighting the U.S. Marshals
and deputies who rode for Parker to protect the West.
A tour of Miss Laura’s Visitor Center – the only former-bordello listed on the National Register of Historic Places and home to the city's Visitors Bureau – is a great first-stop where you can find help with planning your visit. Then, enjoy the five Fort Smith museums, including: the Fort Smith Museum of History, the Fort Smith Trolley Museum, the Clayton House, the Darby House and the Fort Smith Art Center. Ride an authentic electric trolley in one of the same cars that transported folks around town at the turn of the century. Take a nostalgic journey on a a trolley bus. Explore a 130-year span of architecture displayed by beautifully restored homes and buildings that line the streets of the 22-block Belle Grove Historic District.
Have you ever wondered what it was like to see railroads in the 19th century? Now you can experience it, firsthand, on a vintage train excursion aboard Fort Smith’s A & M Scenic Railway, which provides a breathtaking panoramic view of the Boston Mountains.
The west end of Garrison Avenue – our main street – is a shopper’s paradise where visitors will discover one-of-a-kind antiques, unique crafts, trendy boutiques, and more. While you're downtown, be sure to visit The Park West End. The park is an art deco attraction featuring a vintage hand-painted carousel that was built in Treviso, Italy, a Ferris wheel from the 1935 World's Fair, an arcade, an antique pullman rail car, and a diner/concessions inside a classic double-decker bus.