Fort Smith, Arkansas

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Fort Smith, Arkansas


Geographic Coordinates: 35.349500, -94.369500
Temperature Range: -20.0°C to 40.0°C (-4°F to 104°F)
Climate: Cold winters, hot summers, and frequent thunderstorms.
Population: 127699
Language: English

Fort Smith is a city located in the western part of Arkansas, United States. It is situated on the Arkansas-Oklahoma border and has a population of approximately 88, 000 people. The city was founded in 1817 as a military post by Major William Bradford and named after General Thomas Adams Smith. Fort Smith played an important role in American history as it served as a frontier outpost during the Indian Wars and later became known for its role in law enforcement during the Wild West era.

One of Fort Smith’s most significant landmarks is the Fort Smith National Historic Site which includes several historic buildings such as barracks, Officers’ quarters, And courthouse that showcase life at the fort during its heyday. Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the fort’s history or explore on their own with interactive exhibits. Another notable attraction in Fort Smith is the Belle Grove Historic District which features over 20 blocks of Victorian-era homes and buildings that have been restored to their original glory.

The district also hosts several annual events including an antique car show, Christmas parade, And home tour. Fort Smith also boasts several museums that offer insight into various aspects of local history including art, Aviation, Native American culture, And military history. The Fort Smith Museum of History showcases artifacts from early settlers to modern-day residents while The Clayton House Museum provides visitors with an inside look at life during Victorian times.

In addition to its rich historical offerings, Fort Smith has plenty to offer outdoor enthusiasts with parks such as Riverfront Park which offers walking trails along the Arkansas River or Ben Geren Regional Park which features hiking trails through wooded areas along with sports fields for baseball or soccer games. For those looking for entertainment options after dark there are plenty of options including live music venues like Temple Live where national acts perform or movie theaters like Malco Cinemas where visitors can catch up on all their favorite films while enjoying delicious snacks from concessions stands.

Overall, Whether you’re interested in history, Nature, Or entertainment, Fort Smith has something for everyone. Its unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling through the American West.

Important Landmarks

  1. Fort Smith National Historic Site
  2. Miss Laura’s Visitor Center
  3. Judge Isaac C. Parker Federal Building and Museum
  4. Belle Grove Historic District
  5. Fort Smith Trolley Museum
  6. Fort Smith Regional Art Museum
  7. Clayton House Museum
  8. Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center
  9. Parrot Island Waterpark
  10. Harry E Kelley Riverfront Park

Primary Industries

  1. Manufacturing: The city is home to several manufacturing companies, such as Rheem Manufacturing Company, Trane Technologies, and Gerber Products Company.
  2. Healthcare: Fort Smith’s healthcare industry is a significant employer with hospitals like Mercy Hospital and Baptist Health Medical Center providing employment opportunities.
  3. Retail: There are various retail stores and shopping centers in Fort Smith, including Central Mall and Walmart Supercenter.
  4. Transportation: The city has a robust transportation industry with the presence of trucking companies like ABF Freight System Inc., FedEx Ground, and UPS.
  5. Education: The education sector is also essential to the economy of Fort Smith with the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith being one of the largest employers in the area.
  6. Agriculture: Agriculture plays an important role in the economy of Fort Smith with crops such as soybeans, corn, wheat being grown in surrounding areas.
  7. Hospitality: Hotels such as Courtyard by Marriott and Hampton Inn & Suites provide employment opportunities for residents of the city within its hospitality sector.
  8. Banking/Finance: Major banks like Arvest Bank have branches located within the city offering financial services to residents and businesses alike.

Noteable History

  1. Establishment of Fort Smith: The U.S. Army established Fort Smith as a military post in 1817 to safeguard settlers and traders along the Arkansas River.
  2. Trail of Tears: In 1838, thousands of Cherokee Indians were compelled to leave their homes in Georgia and pass through Fort Smith on their way to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma).
  3. Civil War: During the Civil War, both Union and Confederate forces occupied Fort Smith.
  4. Judge Isaac C. Parker’s Court: From 1875-1896, Judge Isaac C. Parker presided over one of the most distinguished federal courts in American history at Fort Smith.
  5. The Hanging Judge: For his strict enforcement of the law that resulted in over 80 men being hanged for various crimes, Judge Parker earned his nickname The Hanging Judge.

Notable People:

  1. Belle Starr: Belle Starr was a notorious outlaw who lived near Fort Smith during the late 1800s.
  2. Bass Reeves: Bass Reeves was an African American lawman who served as a deputy U.S Marshal in Fort Smith from 1875-1907.
  3. Judge Isaac C. Parker: Known as The Hanging Judge due to his reputation for handing out harsh sentences including death penalty.
  4. William O’ Darby: William O’ Darby founded Darby’s Rangers during World War II.
  5. Johnny Cash: Johnny Cash wrote a song called Folsom Prison Blues after seeing an inmate perform at Cummins Prison Farm near Little Rock; he also recorded an album at Folsom State Prison in California.

Museums and Things To See

  1. Fort Smith National Historic Site
  2. The Clayton House
  3. Fort Smith Regional Art Museum
  4. Belle Grove Historic District
  5. The Bonneville House
  6. Fort Smith Trolley Museum
  7. Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center
  8. Miss Laura’s Visitor Center and Brothel Museum
  9. Riverfront Park and Trail System
  10. Judge Isaac C Parker Federal Building and Courthouse

Sports Teams

  1. Fort Smith Marshals: The Fort Smith Marshals were a minor league baseball team that played in the Western Association from 1902 to 1907.
  2. Fort Smith Grizzlies: The Fort Smith Grizzlies were a professional indoor football team that played in the National Indoor Football League from 2005 to 2007.
  3. Arkansas Diamonds: The Arkansas Diamonds were an American Basketball Association (ABA) team based in Fort Smith, Arkansas, which began play in the ABA’s inaugural season of 2000-01 and continued through the end of the league’s final season of 2010-11.
  4. University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Lions: The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith Lions is the athletic program for the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. Their teams compete in NCAA Division II as members of the Heartland Conference.
  5. River Valley Thunderbolts: The River Valley Thunderbolts was a semi-professional football team based out of Van Buren, AR with games played at Mayo-Thompson Stadium on Southside High School’s campus.
  6. Old Town Boxing Club: Old Town Boxing Club is an amateur boxing club located in downtown Ft.Smith that has produced several Golden Glove champions over its history including former WBC World Champion Jermain Taylor who trained there as an amateur boxer before turning pro.
  7. Western Arkansas Roller Derby (WARD): WARD is a flat track roller derby league based out of Chaffee Crossing, AR and was founded in February 2011 by two women with a passion for roller derby and community involvement.
  8. Fort-Smith Express Soccer Team: The Express are part of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), which is considered one level below Major League Soccer (MLS).

Cultural Events

  1. Old Fort Days Rodeo is a week-long rodeo event that takes place annually in May.
  2. The Riverfront Blues Festival is an annual music festival that features blues performers from across the country.
  3. The Fort Smith Juneteenth Celebration is held annually on June 19th and celebrates African American culture and freedom.
  4. The Steel Horse Rally is an annual motorcycle rally that raises money for local charities and organizations, held in May.
  5. The Fort Smith Riverfront Jazz Festival is an annual jazz festival featuring both local and national jazz musicians.
  6. The Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair includes rides, games, livestock shows, and live entertainment for all ages to enjoy.
  7. The Downtown Art Walk happens monthly to showcase local artists and their work to the public.
  8. At the Fort Smith Farmers Market you can find locally grown produce, handmade crafts, as well as live music every week!
  9. The Halloween Festival at Creekmore Park takes place annually with activities like pumpkin carving contests among other fun things!
  10. The Christmas Parade of Lights takes place during the holiday season where floats are decorated with lights to celebrate this special time of year!


  • Catfish Cove: A family-owned restaurant known for their fried catfish, hushpuppies, and coleslaw.
  • Rolando’s Restaurante: A Mexican restaurant that serves authentic dishes like fajitas, tacos, and enchiladas.
  • Calico County: A homestyle cooking restaurant that serves breakfast all day long along with other comfort food items like chicken fried steak and pot roast.
  • Taliano’s Italian Restaurant: An Italian restaurant that offers a variety of pasta dishes, pizzas, salads, and desserts.
  • The Fish House & Grill: A seafood restaurant known for its grilled fish plates as well as shrimp scampi and crab cakes.
  • Doe’s Eat Place: A steakhouse that is famous for its steaks cooked on an open flame grill along with tamales as a side dish.
  • Bricktown Brewery: A brewery-style bar-restaurant serving American pub fare like burgers and sandwiches along with craft beer brewed on-site.
  • River City Bistro: An upscale bistro-style eatery offering a variety of dishes from salads to sandwiches to soups to entrees made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.

  • Parks and Recreation

    1. Creekmore Park features a swimming pool, tennis courts, playgrounds, and walking trails.
    2. Ben Geren Regional Park offers camping, fishing, disc golf, and hiking trails.
    3. Carol Ann Cross Park has a splash pad for kids to enjoy during the summer months.
    4. Harry E. Kelley Riverfront Park provides walking trails along the Arkansas River and hosts various events throughout the year.
    5. Tilles Park features a skate park and picnic areas for families to enjoy.
    6. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center & Pool offers an indoor pool and fitness center for residents to use year-round.
    7. Fort Smith National Historic Site allows visitors to explore historic buildings and learn about the city’s past.
    8. Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center provides educational exhibits about local wildlife and outdoor activities such as fishing and hiking.
    9. Kay Rodgers Park & Expo Center hosts various events throughout the year including rodeos, concerts, fairs etc.
    10. Riverfront Skate & Bike Park is a 12-acre park that includes skateboarding ramps, bike tracks, etc.


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