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Fort Smith National Historic Site

Fort Smith National Historic Site
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General Information

Fort Smith National Historic Site
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Fort Smith National Historic Site
Description - Fort Smith was one of the first U.S. military posts in the Louisiana Territory and served as a base of operations for enforcing federal Indian policy from 1817 to 1896. The park contains the remains of two frontier military forts and a federal court. Judge Isaac C. Parker served here for 21 years protecting the rights of native Americans and helping to bring civilized society to a lawless country.

Attractions -

Fort Smith National Historic Site is currently undergoing a multiyear capital improvement program which encompasses rehabilitating the visitor center and park landscape. The historic Barracks / Courthouse building will be restored to its 1891 appearance. Grand reopening of
the building is scheduled for Friday, May 19, 2000.A temporary
visitor center is located at Third and Parker Street.

Recreation - Visitors can explore Fort Smith's 79 years of history, dating from the founding of the first fort in 1817 to the federal court's loss of jurisdiction over Indian Territory in 1896. There are not any recreational activities offered at this site.

Climate - Arkansas has a temperate climate with the coldest temperatures near freezing during December, January and February. Daytime highs for these months usually reach 55 degrees F. Spring and fall temperatures are very mild with lows dipping to 44 degrees F and highs reaching 70 degrees F. July and August are the hottest months of the year with average temperatures reaching 90 degrees F. June and September average temperatures usually reach into the mid-eighties. Spring and winter months are the wettest of the year.

Location - Fort Smith National Historic Site is located in western Arkansas in the town of Fort Smith, Arkansas. From Little Rock, take I-40 west for 160 miles to Fort Smith.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: "Chunk" Roberts
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: We loved our visit to this park, and wish we had more time to spend there. We really enjoyed seeing the old courtroom where Judge Parker used to sentence all the people who were too poor to hire lawyers to die by hanging. My kids really got a kick out of this, and laughed harder than they did the time we saw a couple of wheel chair racers fall over the side of a cliff in the Adirondaks (they werent hurt really bad, just so you'll know). You should be aware that the park rangers get really upset if you climb up on the gallows and hang one of the ropes around your neck, while just joking around. We told my 12 year old to take our 6 year old past the barricade and go up on the gallows and put the rope around the little ones neck. He did this and we laughed until we were blue in the face. Since the trap doors were closed we didnt think there was any danger. Well a park ranger came along and raised holy hell. He ended up showing us that the trap doors arent bolted shut and if you step on them you will fall through. Well, when I found out about this I told him that they were really dangerous and should warn people that the doors will swing open if they put one of the ropes around their childs neck. How are people supposed to know that someone could get hung?? I recommend this park for everyone but dont place the hanging ropes around your neck cause you could get a really bad rope burn if you fell through the hole.

More Information

Contact Information:
Fort Smith National Historic Site, P.O. Box 1406 , Fort Smith, AR, 72902, Phone: 501-783-3961, Fax: 501-783-5307
, fosm_interpretation@nps.gov

Additional Information:
Arkansas National Forests and Parks - Arkansas National Forests and Parks comprise the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest, the Ouachita National Forest, Hot Springs National Park, Fort Smith National Historic Site, and Pea Ridge National Military Park.
Arkansas's Historic Sites -

Fort Smith National Historic Site - Official agency website


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