FORT SMITH, Ark.—Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), the city’s official destination marketing organization, announced Friday that True West Magazine has designated Fort Smith as a Top Ten True Western Town of 2018. This is the thirteenth year True West has presented this annual award. Editors base their selection on criteria demonstrating how each town has preserved its history through historic buildings, museums and other institutions, events, and promotions of historic resources.
Mention Fort Smith and people will likely think of the Hanging Judge, Isaac Parker, who sent 79 men to the gallows between 1875 and 1896. His federal courtroom is still located at what is now known as the Fort Smith National Historic Site. Here, visitors can also see the jail cells which held the doomed outlaws and criminals, see a replica of the Fort Smith Gallows, and retrace the city’s colorful frontier heritage through interactive exhibits, living history programs, and even walk a paved portion of the Trail of Tears Path and visit the ruins of the first military fort that gave birth to Fort Smith on Christmas Eve in 1817.
That is one reason Fort Smith received the top honor when the CVB first applied in 2013 and also why it is the only city which has remained within the top 5 designations every year thereafter. And this year, we are excited to congratulate our friends in Abilene, Kansas, who won the top 2018 honor! All of the Top 10 True Western Towns are featured in the February 2018 issue; on newsstands as of December 26, 2017.
Fort Smith CVB is housed inside of Miss Laura’s Visitor Center, which is famously known as the first former bordello to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The CVB’s own Travel & Tour Manager, Carolyn Joyce, can often be seen portraying Miss Laura Zeigler for travel groups – something she has done with dignity and humor over the last 25 years – with the help of 70+ volunteers who provide the visiting public with free tours seven days per week. “People love this building,” Joyce says. “The original staircase and the fretwork are really beautiful.” Belle Grove Historic District boasts the state’s largest variety of Victorian architecture. The Fort Smith Museum of History has 40,000 artifacts. The 25-foot Bass Reeves Monument honors the African American Deputy U.S. Marshal who was born a slave and became a legend. Stay tuned for September 2019, when the long-awaited United States Marshals Museum opens. Meanwhile, visit Oak Cemetery, resting place of more than 100 lawmen who served at Fort Smith and 28 outlaws that Parker ordered hanged.
“Fort Smith is a living legend when it comes to the Old West—and it’s more than just Judge Parker,” says True West Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell. “The way the legacy has been maintained, promoted and explained is a testament the efforts of local, state and federal officials. There’s no question that Fort Smith is a Top True Western Town.”
For more information on Fort Smith attractions, dining, lodging, events and more, or to request a visitors guide, please visit www.FortSmith.org or call Fort Smith CVB at 800-637-1477. True West Magazine is in its 65th year of leading the way in presenting the true stories of Old West adventure, history, culture and preservation. For subscriptions and more information, visit TWMag.com or call 888-687-1881.
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