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Using Historic Maps to Anticipate and Manage Archeological Resources in Fort Smith National Historic Site, Arkansas

Fort Smith NHS
Anne Vawser
Managing the diverse resources of a park with such a long and varied history can be significantly improved with a greater knowledge
of the location and nature of non-visible resources such as archeological features. Fort Smith National Historic Site embraces the
remains of two frontier forts and the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas. Historic resources within the boundaries
of the park include a broad range of features, some standing and some buried, from the first fort, built in 1817, to the 'Coke Hill'
Squatter's settlement, to the early development of the town of Fort Smith.

The project was initially begun to create a "digital atlas" of maps that were important to the interpretation of the various periods of
the fort and the town of Fort Smith. Initially, over 75 historic maps were evaluated for use in the project. Some of the coverages
that were finally created include the locations of the first fort, the second fort, structures and features associated with the judicial
period, the squatter settlement, and the early town of Fort Smith based on Sanborn Insurance maps.

This information on the potential location of historic features was later used to identify various levels of archeological potential in the
park as a part of an Archeological Overview and Assessment. The compiled information will be very useful to park managers and
archeologists in avoiding damage to potential archeological features when planning future work in the park. Displays describing the
process have also been used by interpreters at the park to enhance the visitors understanding of the history of the park and its role
in the development of the west.

The GIS work was completed for the park by the Midwest Archeological Center of the National Park Service located in Lincoln,
Nebraska. The Center provides archeological services as well as cultural resource mapping services to parks in the Midwest Region
of the National Park Service, as well as other NPS Regions and other Federal Agencies.

April 08, 2004