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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

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    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.
FOSM

Did You Know?

Parker seated at his bench in 6th Street courtroom

The only known image of Judge Parker in his courtroom is this one from the federal courthouse on Sixth Street which dates from the 1890s. There are no photographs of the courtroom located in the former military barracks.