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

    Fort Smith

    National Historic Site AR,OK

Natural Features & Ecosystems

View of Arkanss River from Belle Point

View of Arkansas River from Belle Point

From its western border along the Poteau and Arkansas Rivers up to Belle Point and over to the site of the Second Fort and Courthouse, the approximatly 40 acres comprising Fort Smith National Historic Site provides visitors with a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the natural environment of the Arkansas River Valley without leaving downtown Fort Smith.

Situated in an ecotone, a crossroads of ecosystems, in the Arkansas River Valley region of Western Arkansas, the Fort Smith National Historic Site contains a diverse landscape of upland and bottomland hardwood forests interspersed with Loblolly Pine and an abundance of manicured lawns. Located at the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers between the Ozark Plateau to the north, and the Ouachita Mountains to the south, this urban park has a variety of tree species native to the trans-Ozark/Ouachita/Arkansas River Valley regions.

Due to the Park's proximity to the Rivers and its considerable amount of river-frontage, there is additional complexity in the local ecosystems. This allows for greater wildlife diversity such as beavers, Great Blue Herons, and seasonal sightings of American White Pelicans and Bald Eagles.

Although the Arkansas River is a major component to the park's natural environment, it has been altered drastically from its native state. In 1970 the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas Navigation System was completed, providing a navigatable waterway from the Mississippi River to Eastern Oklahoma.

At times the Arkansas River floods and on rare occasions part of the park's river trail is inaccessible.

 
river flooding over park's sidewalk
Arkansas River floods park's river trail (note egret standing in water) -- July 14, 2007 -- taken at height of flood
VIP John Northrip

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.