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Fort Smith Travel Guide: 70 reviews and 246 photos
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.
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).
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.
Technically this place is in Roland, Oklahoma, yet it is just across the bridge that divides Arkansas and Oklahoma. A... more travel advice
We had to do some antique shopping. My sister bought things for her daughter and I just enjoyed window shopping. The... more travel advice
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Latest Fort Smith hotel reviews
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Latest: Oct 16, 2013
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