Fort Smith is the second-largest city in Arkansas with unique and fascinating past. Fort Smith National Historic Site is a national historic site located along the Arkansas River. The historic site is well preserved and well presented. The site was established in 1961 in order to preserve the remains of two nineteenth century U.S. military forts. A building which once housed the United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas is also part of this historic site. Some of the exhibits at the visitor center of the site include Fort Smith’s military history from 1817 to 1871, westward expansion, Judge Isaac Parker and the federal court’s impact on Indian Territory, Federal Indian policy and Indian Removal including the Trail of Tears. Fort Smith was as a major stop along the Trail of Tears, a name that signifies the forced relocation of Native American nations following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The removal included many members of the Cherokee, Muscogee, Choctaw and Chickasaw nations among others from their homelands to Indian Territory. This is also the same place where Judge Isaac Parker handed out verdicts to hang hundreds of most vile outlaws in the country that earned him the title “Hanging Judge”. The city and the historic site are full of jaw-dropping stories from the past. Thousands of people come to Fort Smith each year from all over the United States to listen to these stories and to visit these historic sites.
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Located along the Arkansas River, Fort Smith is a hospitable and affordable getaway for the whole family. The highlight of the city is the Fort Smith Trolley Museum. Trolleys were the easiest means of public transportation in American cities before the arrival of buses and subway systems. The Trolley is an original city trolley that has been restored by the volunteers at the Fort Smith Museum of History. Hop on and the trolley will take you through Garrison Avenue, back past the actual Trolley Museum to the National Cemetery. The trolley is more than just public transportation. You will enjoy this narrated tour by the conductor who gives a brief but informative talk that highlights the local history, the history of the trolley and how the trolley operated in the past as it goes along the rails. The ride covers all the major attractions in Fort Smith. This is a great trolley ride that everyone will enjoy regardless their ages. To complement the ride visitors stop by Fort Smith Museum of History to learn more about the rich local and regional history. The museum preserves and exhibits objects of historical significance relevant to Fort Smith and the region. Some of the exhibits include vignette, arts, antiques and artifacts. While you are there don’t forget to check out Miss Laura's Social Club. Currently, it is City’s Tourist Information Center as well as a museum. This is a old fashioned building and the admission is free. Once you get in the volunteers will welcome you and take you to a tour of the house, which has been restored. They will entertain you with stories and historical facts about the building.