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The Fort Smith National Historic Site covers around 80 years of Fort Smith, Arkansas history from 1817 to 1896. This site primarily focuses on the years in which Judge Isaac C. Parker served the Federal Court of the Western District of Arkansas, 1875-1896. This site includes an indoor museum, several outdoor exhibits, and a walking trail that leads visitors to the foundations of the First Fort Smith. This National Park Site is a great place to take friends and family to learn more about the history of the town.


The Fort Smith National Historic Site shares 80 years of Fort Smith history with visitors from across the country and around the world. When guest enter the visitor center, they are greeted by National Park Rangers who give them an overview of what they can see inside the building and outside.

Inside the main building, visitors typically begin by watching a short film that provides the 80 year history in about 15 minutes. After the film, visitors can make their way down the hall to see the first jail, nicknamed the “Hell on the Boarder” jail. Visitors can then continue upstairs where they can see a recreation of the second jail that was built. In this area, there are also exhibits on Deputy Marshals. Continuing on through the latter portion of the museum, visitors can see exhibits on military and the Trail of Tears before entering Judge Parker’s courtroom. This exhibit is what most people come to see. When visitors finish inside they can explore the grounds where they can see a recreation of the gallows, the Commissary which is the oldest building in Fort Smith, and they can travel out to see the foundations of the First Fort Smith.

For those wanting to come to the museum they are open from 9 am to 5 pm every day except New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.[1] To go through the museum it will cost $10 for those sixteen and older and those under sixteen are free.[2] This price will cover seven consecutive days of reentry.[3] The museum also accepts any America the Beautiful National Park Passes.[4] This is a great museum for all ages.

[1] “Operating Hours & Seasons,” National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/fosm/planyourvisit/hours.htm (accessed December 13, 2019).

[2] “Fees & Passes,” National Park Service, https://www.nps.gov/fosm/planyourvisit/fees.htm (accessed December 13, 2019).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

“Discover the Past.” National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/fosm/index.htm (accessed December 13, 2019).

“Fees & Passes.” National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/fosm/planyourvisit/fees.htm (accessed December 13, 2019).

“Operating Hours & Seasons.” National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/fosm/planyourvisit/hours.htm (accessed December 13, 2019).

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Mattison Griffin