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Fort Smith National Historic Site facts for kids

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Fort Smith National Historic Site
IUCN Category V (Protected Landscape/Seascape)
A photo of a building in historic Fort Smith
Part of historic Fort Smith
Location Sebastian County, Arkansas, United States
Nearest city Fort Smith, Arkansas
Area 75 acres (30 ha)
Established September 13, 1961
Visitors 86,122 (in 2011)
Governing body National Park Service
Designated: October 15, 1966
Reference #: 66000202
Designated: December 19, 1960

Fort Smith National Historic Site is a United States National Historic Site located in Fort Smith, Arkansas along the Arkansas River.


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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