s/y Nine of Cups
Fort Smith National Historic Site - Arkansas
August 2012
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First established in 1817, the original log and stone fort was built under orders of President Jefferson for keeping peace with and between the Indian tribes. The fort was
abandoned and left to deteriorate when troops moved farther west. It was during this period that the "Trail of Tears" occurred in the government's misguided attempt to relocate
tribes. The second Fort Smith was built to defend settlers against Indian attacks (go figure, the locals would be upset by having their land taken). The Union took control of the
fort during the Civil War. Subsequently, as the country grew and expanded westward, the Fort was used as a Federal court and prison. The site was established in 1961 in order
to protect the remains of two 19th-century U.S. military forts. Above, the brick building as the Federal Court and prison area, now the Visitor's Center.  The stone building, far
right, was the barracks.
The Visitor's Center offered a short orientation film and then two floors of displays and exhibits explaining the history of  Fort Smith over the
past two centuries. When used as a Federal Court and prison, the jail above was called "The Hell-on-the-Border" Jail due to the crowded,
inhuman conditions which existed when 50+ people (men and women) were crammed into this small space.
Corruption and graft prevailed in the
Arkansas Territory until the "hanging
judge", Isaac C. Parker was appointed as
Federal Judge in the area. Despite his
name, he tried over 13,000 cases and
only 79 people were actually hanged.
David inspects the trapdoors on the