"~Fort Smith~" Top 5 Page for this destination Fort Smith by Yaqui

Fort Smith Travel Guide: 66 reviews and 243 photos

Bass Reeves - Lawman on the Western Frontier

Bass Reeves, a slave born in Arkansas and reared in Texas, rose to become one of the best known and effective deputy U.S. marshals to ride out of Fort Smith for Judge Isaac C. Parker. Recognized as one of the first African Americans commissioned as a federal lawman on the western frontier, Reeves was a master of disguise, expert with firearms, and over a thirty year career, arrested thousands of felons, including his son and minister. Newspapers reported that he killed over twenty men in the line of duty.

After leaving Fort Smith, Reeves served the federal courts of Paris, Texas and Muskogee in the Indian Territory. Following Oklahoma statehood in 1907, he worked for the Muskogee Police Department until 1909. Reeves died in 1910 at the age of 71 in Muskogee. This statue is a dedication to Bass Reeves and all federal lawmen who bravely served our nation with valor, fortitude, and unwavering integrity.

~Captain John Rodgers~

Founded in 1817 by the U.S. Army to contain a volatile Indian feud, Fort Smith later served as a major supply depot for western military posts, and finally as headquarters of the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas. For over 80 years, the federal government used Fort Smith to establish and maintain law and order in the Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma).

Fort Smith National Historic Site~

Security has always been a concern for the U.S. military. The army designed the second Fort Smith (1838-1871) as part of line of forts from Minnesota to Louisiana to separate the territory occupied by Native American tribes from that settled by American citizens. To provide protection in the event of an attack, military engineers called for the construction of a fort with five bastions (gun emplacements), and a massive stonewall that was 12 feet high and 2 feet thick.

Fort Smith represents the last of a dying breed; from the 1840s on, virtually all frontier forts were built without walls. After Fort Smith was built, the cost of constructing a wall was considered too great in comparison to the benefit of a fortified defense. The fort walls remained in place throughout the federal court era (1872-1897), affording a level of security for proceedings and the executions that took place. Today the location of the original wall outlined by continuous band of stones.

  • Last visit to Fort Smith: Jul 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (32)

Comments (8)

  • hopang's Profile Photo
    Jul 24, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    Fascinating American history on this travel page. We especially like the Museum of History, the park and the historical site. Thanks for your virtual tour. ~ho & pang

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Jan 3, 2014 at 10:04 PM

    This sounds like an excellent fort to visit! I like the way its set out and the amount of information boards scattered around. Great page!

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Oct 13, 2013 at 5:18 PM

    What a great page on American history :)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jun 23, 2013 at 9:52 AM

    Lots of interesting history here!

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Mar 7, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    I have been here a few times and still marvel at the preservation of the fort area, and old town homes. Nice tips and pics

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Sep 20, 2012 at 5:51 AM

    What a great page on Fort Smith. Lots of details. Hard to believe so many men and women were hanged here. Sure is gruesome. thank god it's not done any more.

    • Yaqui's Profile Photo
      Sep 21, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      Thank you for stopping by. There is so much more to this wonderful town. I didn't get to explore enough. Looking forward to your new adventures!

  • akkipaa's Profile Photo
    Sep 10, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    You have done fantastic job here. It's 7:30AM here, I need to rush to work, but I will come back. Take care.

    • Yaqui's Profile Photo
      Sep 11, 2012 at 3:35 PM

      Thank you for visiting, me & my sister had a awesome time!

  • Mikebb's Profile Photo
    Sep 10, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    Hi Dee, a town full of American history. Looks like you had a busy weekend with your sister

    • Yaqui's Profile Photo
      Sep 10, 2012 at 9:10 PM

      Thank you Mike for visiting this page. Our Budget truck broke down, yet it gave us an opportunity to explore this place while they were fixing it...yay! It is a great place to spend time at. How is your travels going?


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