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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

Places at the First Fort Smith (1817-1824)

Belle Point (Beautiful Place)

The area overlooking the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers had been named Belle Point by French fur trappers who traveled along the rivers in the 18th century. When the U.S. Army decided to establish a fort near the Osage boundary at the Arkansas River, Belle Point was the site chosen by Major Stephen H. Long of the Topographical Engineers. Long led the expedition in which he chose the location of, designed, and named the first Fort Smith in 1817. He was accompanied by Major William Bradford and the U.S. Rifle Regiment whom he left at the site of the future Fort Smith in order to begin construction.

Aerial view of the remains of the First Fort Smith at Belle Point
Aerial photograph of the first Fort Smith.
The foundation of the First Fort Smith visible in a fresh layer of rare snow.
A rare snowy morning overlooking the foundational remains of the first Fort Smith.  The Fort Smith/Arkansas River Valley area only receives an average of 2.35" of snow accumulation per year.

Did You Know?

deputy marshals pose with their rifles for a formal portrait

Fort Smith National Historic Site has records of over 1,770 people employed by the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas from 1872-1896. The majority of these employees were U.S. Deputy Marshals.