Nestled comfortably on the Arkansas–Oklahoma state border, the city of Fort Smith, also known as Belle Point, originated in 1817 when a military outpost was established there. The settlement around it started growing as a result of it being a well-known base for those looking for fortune and land in the Wild West, as well as a center for the fur trade.
Throughout its history, Fort Smith established a legacy for its law enforcement heritage, which includes the infamous Judge Isaac Parker, also known as "Hanging Judge Parker.” Judge Parker sentenced 160 people to death. Half of these were executed, and the rest either died in prison or were pardoned.
Fort Smith also has a lot of history involving the fight for women's rights. Arkansas was the first state in the south that allowed women to vote in 1917, and a woman named Dymple Johnson was the first woman to cast her vote in the Fort Smith election in November of the same year. Fort Smith was also the home of Dr. Minnie Sanders, one of the first female physicians in the south. Dr. Sanders had to be declared a "person" by a judge before being able to serve on a jury in Illinois.
One of the things tourists and residents enjoy the most about Fort Smith these days is its active cultural and musical life. Local bands constantly present live performances downtown, and the symphony orchestra is the oldest of its type in the state. Additionally, the many theaters and venues consistently put on plays and dance performances to be enjoyed by all.
As in the early days, when the fur trade attracted a number of businesses to the area, Fort Smith has a bustling commercial life, with Central Mall being the largest shopping center in the state, making it a must-visit place to visit when you are in the mood for a feel of the Old West with a modern touch.