Welcome to Historic Fort Smith, AR!
When you think of the history Fort Smith, it’s safe to say you can imagine it just as you would the “Wild West”. It lies right along the Oklahoma-Arkansas border and was established in 1817.
The town was shaped by a diverse group of settlers ranging from Indians, soldiers, lawmen, and outlaws – creating a compelling story of turbulence, troubles, and tears. Fort Smith is often referred to as “Hell on the Border”. This name originated from the fact that Judge Issac Charles Parker, who became known as the “Hanging Judge” of the American Old West due to the large number of convicts whom he sentenced to death. Today, the same gallows stand where Judge Parker hung all of those men.
Fort Smith is well known for its history, as it has preserved much of it. There are numerous historical sites to visit including:
- Miss Laura’s Social Club – Out of seven “row houses” that lined Fort Smith’s Old West red light district, Miss Laura’s is the only house of ill-repute that stood the test of time. Now, it is the only former bordello on the National Register of Historic Places, and it has been fully restored to its original grandeur. A great representation of Fort Smith’s colorful past!
- Belle Grove Historic District – the beautiful Belle Grove area was entered into the National Register of Historic Places on July 16, 1973. Since then, a large number of homes that span 130 years of varying architectural styles have been restored. The district is overseen by the Belle Grove Historic District Commission.
- A&M Railroad & Excursions – Arkansas & Missouri Railroad’s special passenger train services offer you a window seat into history – an opportunity to travel in the style of a bygone era.
- Fort Smith Trolley Museum – The Fort Smith Trolley museum operates a restored 1926 electric Birney Streetcar that carries passengers on a 3/4 mile stretch of track that is located between Fort Smith’s historic Garrison Avenue and the National Cemetery. While riding the trolley, don’t be surprised if it happens to get robbed – the museum also hosts a Robbing of the Trolley and shootout by the Indian Territory Pistoliers reenactment group.
- Fort Smith National Historic Site – At Fort Smith National Historic Site you can walk where Mexican War & Civil War soldiers drilled, pause along the Trail of Tears, and stand where justice was served to some of the most vile outlaws of The Wild West. The park includes Belle Point, Trail of Tears Overlook, Commissary, Fort Smith Gallows & Second Fort Smith Grounds, and the Visitor Center – Historic Barracks/Courthouse/Jail Buildings.
- Fort Smith Museum of History – The Fort Smith Museum of History was established in 1910 and has collected and preserved the economic, political, and cultural contributions of Fort Smith.
- Fort Smith Air Museum – If you arrive by air, the first thing you should stop in and see is the Air Museum honoring pioneer and military aviators from western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma located inside the Fort Smith Regional Airport.
- Elvis Barbershop Museum – On March 24, 1958, an international rock and roll star named Elvis Presley suspended his music career to serve his country in the U.S. Army. Famous for his iconic hair, Elvis made international headlines the next day when he received his first G.I. buzz cut that was dubbed, “the haircut heard ‘round the world.’” The Chaffee Barbershop Museum not only lets the visitor ‘step back in time’ to that day in 1958 but also serves to honor the effect Fort Chaffee had on the state of Arkansas and the important role it played during that time and every decade following.
Aside from sightseeing in Historic Fort Smith, there are many other things that draw people to our area. Some of those include Janet Huckabee Nature Center, Parrot Island Water Park, the annual Steel Horse Rally, Cherokee Casino (located minutes away over the Oklahoma border), Choctaw Casino (located minutes away over the Oklahoma border), the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum, the Fort Smith Farmers Market, and a variety of clubs, bars, and places to eat, drink and dance the night away!
Fort Smith is the second largest city in the state of Arkansas, with a population of around 88,000. The cost of living in Fort Smith has been reported by Forbes to be one of the lowest in the United States, reportedly around 15% below the national average. The city has a highly regarded public school system, and Fort Smith residents have plenty of parks and walking trails for fresh air and exercise.
As you can see, Fort Smith is a great place to play, explore, and live! If you are considering making Fort Smith your new hometown, check out some of our available properties here!