Fort Smith, city (1990 pop. 72,798), seat of Sebastian co., NW Ark., at the Okla. line where the Arkansas and Poteau rivers join; inc. 1842. It is the rail, trade, and industrial center of a farm and livestock area. Its manufactures include construction materials, food and beverages, textiles, furniture, and hardware. An 1817 military post here became a supply point during the 1848 gold rush; the lawless area was cleaned up (1870s) by "Hanging Judge" Isaac Parker, but Bordello Row and other reminders are celebrated today. The Fort Smith National Historic Site includes the Old Fort Museum and Judge Parker's court (see National Parks and Monuments, table). A national Civil War cemetery and an annual rodeo draw visitors. In 1969 the city was linked by the Arkansas River project with the Gulf of Mexico; the dam built east of Fort Smith created a large lake.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.