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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

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  • 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 »

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?

Trail of Tears Routes

The Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee, (Muscogee) Creek and Seminole Indian tribes were forcibly moved to Indian Territory on what became known as the Trail of Tears. The Arkansas River served as a water route to Fort Smith where they received supplies before crossing the river into Indian Territory.