Fort Smith National Historic Site facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsFort Smith National Historic Site
Fort Smith National Historic Site in 2009
|Location||Sebastian County, Arkansas|
|Nearest city||Fort Smith, Arkansas|
|Area||75 acres (30 ha)|
|Established||September 13, 1961|
|Visitors||86,122 (in 2011)|
|Governing body||National Park Service|
|Website||Fort Smith National Historic Site|
|Designated:||October 15, 1966|
|Designated:||December 19, 1960|
Fort Smith National Historic Site is a National Historic Site located in Fort Smith, Arkansas, along the Arkansas River. The first fort at this site was established by the United States in 1817, before this area was established as part of Indian Territory. It was later replaced and the second fort was operated by the US until 1871. This site was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1961.
The fort was the first site of the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, which had jurisdiction over western Arkansas and all of Indian Territory. It began operations in 1875 with the appointment of Isaac C. Parker as the first federal district judge here. The town of Fort Smith, Arkansas developed around the fort.
The park visitor center is now located in the old Barracks/Courthouse/Jail building. Exhibits in the visitor center focus on Fort Smith’s military history from 1817–1871, western expansion, Judge Isaac Parker and the federal court's impact on Indian Territory, U.S. Deputy Marshals and outlaws, Federal Indian policy, and Indian Removal including the Trail of Tears. Located on the grounds are the foundation remains of the first Fort Smith (1817–1824), the commissary building (c. 1838) and a reconstruction of the gallows used by the federal court. A walking trail along the Arkansas River includes wayside exhibits on the Trail of Tears. This was also one of the areas Bonnie and Clyde stopped at and they were killed after leaving. Land on the Oklahoma bank of the Arkansas River was authorized to be included in the National Historic Site to preserve a historic viewshed, but has not been acquired.
The site was established in 1961 in order to protect the remains of two 19th-century U.S. military forts, including a building which once housed the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas. Fort Smith was also notable as a major stop along the "Trail of Tears." It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960.
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Fort Smith National Historic Site Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.