Fort Smith is located in northwest Arkansas and borders Oklahoma. It is the county seat of Sebastian County. The city has a population of 80,286 which makes it the second largest city in Arkansas behind Little Rock. It is located in the River Valley of Arkansas between the Ouachita mountains in the south and the Boston and Ozark mountains of the north and a gateway city to the Ozarks.
In 1817 Fort Smith was established as a military fort next to Indian territory in Oklahoma to keep the peace between the native Osage tribes and the recently relocated Cherokee groups. It is located at the junction of the Arkansas river and the Poteau river at a place that early French explorers called Belle Point. The military fort was named after General Thomas A. Smith, the military's district commander. The military later relocated to nearby Fort Chaffee but the civilian settlers remained keeping the name of the fort and establishing a western frontier town that was often the last genteel layover for people from all walks of life before excursions into Indian Oklahoma including soldiers en route to the Mexican War in the Southwest.
Later Fort Smth became a popular stop for westward expansionists, gold rush diggers, and those seeking better opportunities due to the Great Depression and Dust Bowl of the 20th century. Today as the second largest city in the state, the municipality and surrounding area is a major economic hub for the state of Arkansas with many major corporations with roots in the city still in operation and employing thousands. The downtown area and commercial zones are usually busy with voluminous traffic most days but beyond that one will find quiet residential zones and woods. Recently due to economic trends in the U.S. economy, some major factories and plants have closed and/or moved resulting in a swelling of the unemployed population and an uptick in local taxes.
Fort Smith itself does not have passenger rail service. The nearest cities with Amtrak stations are Oklahoma City, which is the northern terminus of the Heartland Flyer to Fort Worth; and Little Rock, which is served by the Texas Eagle San Antonio - Chicago route.
Fort Smith is located at the intersection of Interstate 40, Interstate 540, and US Route 71. Approximate driving times are: 2 hours and 30 minutes west of Little Rock, 1 hour south of Fayetteville, and 3 hours east of Oklahoma City.
The best way to get around and see Fort Smith is by car. Also, public transport is provided by Fort Smith Transit. Although Fort Smith is Arkansas' second largest city, it is relatively compact and getting around shouldn't be much of a problem.
The Hanging Judge
The Fort Smith National Historic Site contains the former courthouse of Issac Parker (1838-1896), who became known as "The Hanging Judge". Parker served 21 years on the bench, during which he sentenced 160 criminals to death by hanging, of which 79 were actually hanged. Today, the phrase hanging judge has entered American law jargon as a term for a judge who frequently implements the death penalty or seeks swift and firm justice.
Miss Laura's house of ill-repute and Visitor Center
Miss Laura's Social Club and Visitor Center, 2 N "B" St., +1 479 783-8888, A house of ill-repute from Fort Smith's past, now a visitor center. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is a good starting point for any visit to Fort Smith.
Fort Smith National Historic Site, South of Garrison Ave., near the Arkansas river. Parking and Park entrance near 3rd St. and Garland Ave.  This site includes both the original Fort sites and the reconstructed gallows of Hanging Judge Issac Parker.
Trolley Museum, 100 S. 4th, +1 479 783-0205  Take a ride on the trolley past the Judge Parker court and the National Historic Site.
Belle Grove Historic District, 22 square block area north of downtown, On the National Register of Historic Places and has 25 restored historical homes.
Fort Chaffee and Chaffee Crossing, Hwy 22 (east of Fort Smith) Former military fort with a rich history. Was built in 1941 and includes 22,000 acres. Elvis Presley was inducted into the military and started basic training there. The movies "Biloxi Blues," and "A Soldier's Story" were filmed there.
You will find the standard chain restaurants spread out for 2 miles on Rogers Ave. to the east of Interstate 540. They include Friday's, Applebees, Chili's, Outback Steak House, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Arby's, Chick-fil-A, KFC, Wendy's, Schlotzsky's Deli, IHOP and Village Inn.
Bella Italia Restaurant, 407. N. 8th St., +1 479 785-1550
Calico County, 2401 South 56th, +1 479 452-3299,  Family style restaurant with great cinnamon rolls.
Catfish Cove Restaurant, 1615 S. Phoenix Av., +1 479 646-8835, Catfish, Seafood and frog legs on a all you can buffet.
Doe's Steak House, 422 N. 3rd Street, +1 479 784-9111,  Great steaks and tamales.
Diamond Head Restaurant, 4600 Towson Ave. Suite 59., +1 479 646-2762 A Great Chinese Dine in Restaurant.
Hamburger Barn, 317 Garrison Av., +1 479 782-0233, Design your own hamburger.
Jerry Neel's BBQ, 1823 S Phoenix Av., +1 479 646-8085, Very good BBQ.
Being so close to a number of military installations and bases the area boasts a large number of military families.
The city is in a very GOP concentrated district as opposed to the rest of the state, though changing political trends for both parties have caught up to the area recently.
Church attendance is very high and religious expression often encouraged but residents are often respectful of one politely declines their invitations to services. There are also small nonreligious secular social groups nearby, notably in Fayetteville, if that's one's preference.
Being near many rural communities and woodlands one may come across, though rare, wildlife especially the nearer one is on the outskirts of the city. It is best advised to leave the wildlife be.
Local county liquor laws prohibit the sale of alcohol on Sundays.
Due to nation-wide economic changes several large scale employers have had to close or move. These events have hit the local residents very hard and as a result several have had to swallow their pride and accept public assistance.
Talimena Drive from Talihina, Oklahoma to Mena, Arkansas 54 Mile scenic drive in Oklahoma and Arkansas along the ridge of the Ouachita Mountains and the Ouachita National Forest. The drive has frequent turnouts so you can enjoy the scenery.
Hot Springs Visit the national park and Oaklawn Park horse racing. Enjoy a thermal bath in the bath house of your choice.
Eureka Springs only 2-1/2 hours of Ozarks driving from Fort Smith. Take the guided tram tour of the historic area. Visit Christ of the Ozarks monument and Passion Play grounds. Enjoy the Little Switzerland of the Ozarks.
Branson is just a 3 hour drive and in the heart of the Ozarks. Visit some of the craft shops, see a show, shop the outlet malls and take a ride on the Branson Scenic Railway. Be sure and visit the Veteran Memorial Museum.
Altus, a wine-producing town, is a short drive east from Fort Smith on Interstate 40 or US Route 64. It is known best as the setting of The Simple Life. Don't forget to visit the wineries, though, and while you're at it, wine tasting is also a great idea. While in Altus, it worth stopping to see the interior of St. Mary's Catholic Church. The Church is decorated with elaborate frescos that were painted by a German artist who was stranded in the United States following the outbreak of World War I.
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