When we drove into Fort Smith yesterday we had no idea of what we were looking for, other than the historic district. We ended up on the grounds of the old fort, built from 1938-42. It was fortified with stone walls which were 12 feet high and 2 feet thick. Fort Smith was the last of its kind, after 1840 frontier forts were not built with such fortification because they were too costly to build. During the Civil War the fort was fired on once, it was an attempt by the Confederate troops in 1864 to take back the city from the Union army. They were not successful. After the Civil War the military closed the little used fort. However, for over 80 years the fort was used by the federal government to establish and maintain order in Indian Territory, land which was set apart for them in 1828 and which would become Oklahoma. Pictured below is one of the buildings which first served the fort as a military barracks.. In the late 1800s it became a jail and a Federal Courthouse for Western Arkansas. Currently there is a wonderful museum in the old courthouse with exhibits pertaining to the jail which use to be in its basement, as well as a replica of Judge Parker's courtroom. He held the bench for 21 years, settling thousands of disputes and violence between Indians and non-Indians. In Western novels and films he was known as the "Hanging Judge".