• Rifle Regiment arriving at Belle Point, 1817. Artwork by Michael Haynes

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

Building Tour

Program Description:

This ranger guided tour will take students through 24 years of Fort Smith's Federal Court history. Students will stand inside the first jail and learn about what it would have been like for prisoners incarcerated at Fort Smith's first federal jail. The tour then leads students to the second jail, which was built to improve prisoners' living conditions. Along with stories about prison life in the second jail, students will learn about the important role of the Deputy Marshals in the justice system. Students will finish their program in Judge Parker's courtroom where they will learn more about his life, some of the cases over which he presided. Depending on time and the teacher's lesson plan objectives, student can be taken to the outdoor gallows for a ranger talk about executions and what happened on the days in which they took place.

Students will learn about:

  • Daily life of a prisoner
  • Life of a US Deputy Marshal
  • Basics of the Federal Justice System
  • Life and times of Judge Parker (1875-1896)
  • Execution day on the gallows optional

Length: 45 - 60 minutes

Group Size: 45 maximum

Areas Visited:

  • First Jail (1872-1888)
  • Second Jail (1888-1896)
  • Judge Parker's Courtroom (1875-1890)
  • Gallows (1872-1896) optional

Logistics:

Program involves walking short distances covering two floors. There is an elevator for ADA accessibility.

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Did You Know?

reproduction of keelboat on Arkansas River with first fort soldier reenactors

Fort Smith was established on Christmas Day, 1817. Approximately 70 Rifle Regiment soldiers arrived by keelboat after a long journey on the Arkansas River.