Road Construction I-540
Traveling West on I-40? To avoid construction delays, do not take Exit 7 (I-540 S). Stay on I-40 west and take Exit 1 Dora. Stay on Hwy 64D for 6 miles and follow signs to Fort Smith. After crossing over the river, turn right on 4th ST & right on Garland. More »
Justice, Executions and the Gallows
In the courtroom portion of this program students will sit in the chairs of the jury and attorneys while they learn about court jurisdictions, the justice system and the roles of the people in the courtroom (judge, prosecuting and defense attorneys, clerk, bailiff, jury, and witnesses), the kinds of crimes that Judge Parker would have presided over - and sentenced to hang, the kind of person Judge Parker actually was and why the nickname "hanging judge" is unfair. The second part of this program takes students outside to the gallows where they will learn about the prisoner's last day, the steps involved in the execution process, and who would have attended executions - and why. Disclaimer: Because this program covers the topic of execution, subject content will include the mention of murder and rape as crimes for which people were executed at Fort Smith. While the tour guide will make every effort to discuss the material at a student-friendly and age appropriate level, the material may not be suitable for all students and/or grade levels.
Students will learn about:
Length: 45 - 60 minutes
Group Size: 45 maximum
Students will spend time in two main places; seated in the courtroom, and standing outside in the gallows area. Walking distance between the building and gallows is approximately 20 yards on an ADA accessible paved walkway. There is no shade protection in the gallows area.
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Did You Know?
The U.S. Army selected a spot overlooking the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers for the site of a fort. Soldiers from the Rifle Regiment arrived in 1817 and named the site Fort Smith after their commanding officer, Thomas A. Smith.