Home » 2002 Cross Country Road Trip

Fort Smith National Historic Site, AR

Tuesday, August 13, 2002 - 8:00am by Lolo
270 miles and 4.75 hours from our last stop


As we drove across the Arkansas River into Arkansas (all 4 of us crammed into the cab), we entered the last of the 48 Continental U.S. states needed to fill out our RV map. Quite an accomplishment in 4 years, if I must say so myself.

Shortly after entering Arkansas, we stopped at the Fort Smith National Historic Site, the site of one of the first U.S. military posts in the Louisiana Territory. We were greeted quite enthusiastically by the ranger in the Visitor Center who appeared quite excited to see a group of tourists. It actually was a very nicely done museum with exhibits focusing on the turbulent years between the U.S. government and the Indians in the newly acquired Louisiana Territory. The fort was also home to the Federal Court that had jurisdiction over the Indian Territory. We visited the recreated federal court and jail and the kids' personal favorite--the gallows where 79 convicted criminals were executed.

The boys were quite happy and surprised to find that the gift shop sold hat pins to add to their ever-growing collection.


The town of Fort Smith on the Arkansas River in western Arkansas was founded in 1817 as an Army outpost on the eastern edge of Indian Territory. It quickly grew into a rowdy town full of saloons and brothels as it attracted outlaws and drifters. Today the Visitor Center is located in a former brothel, known as Miss Laura's, in the old 1890s River Front Hotel.

The nearby Fort Smith National Historic Site was the site of one of the first U.S. military posts in the new Louisiana Territory. While only the foundation stones from the original 1817 fort remain, the barracks which contained the Federal courtroom of Judge Isaac C. Parker still stands. Visitors can tour the recreated courtroom, jail, and gallows where 79 criminals were executed.

Fort Smith National Historic Site location map in "high definition"

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