• 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 »

Grounds Stop I

 
Memorial Gate

NPS

Behind a Stone Wall
N 35° 23.289’
W 94° 25.748’

Security has always been a concern for the U.S. Military. The army designed the second For Smith as part of a line of forts from Minnesota to Louisiana to separate the territory occupied by Native American tribes from that area settled by American citizens. To provide protection in the event of an attack on Fort Smith, military engineers called for an imposing wall with five bastions (gun emplacements). The massive stone structure, at 12 feet high and 2 feet thick, remained in place until 1897. Fort Smith represents the last of a dying breed; from the 1840’s on, virtually all frontier forts were built without walls. After Fort Smith was built, the cost of constructing a wall was considered too great in comparison to the benefit of a fortified defense. The location of the wall is now outlined by the continuous band of stone. The entry gates and corner bastions are also marked, making it possible to walk the perimeter of the second fort.
 
Stop I
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Did You Know?

Portrait of Anna Dawes

A woman was responsible for the building of a modern federal jail at Fort Smith, AR, in 1888. Anna Dawes, daughter of Sen. Dawes of MA, visited the "Hell on the Border" jail in 1885 and wrote an article describing its conditions. When read in Congress, money was quickly approved for a new jail.