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Fort Smith

Construction Masters is so proud to be the only Platinum Preferred Contractor for our hometown of Fort Smith, Arkansas. Fort Smith is where our company was founded, and we are happy to serve our neighbors with quality products and outstanding customer service! Please take a moment to learn a little more about our roofing hometown, Fort Smith, Arkansas.

General Information about Fort Smith, Arkansas
Fort Smith is the second-largest city in the U.S. state of Arkansas and one of the two county seats of Sebastian County. With a population of 86,209 in 2010, it is the principal city of the Fort Smith, Arkansas-Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region of 298,592 residents which encompasses the Arkansas counties of Crawford, Franklin, and Sebastian, and the Oklahoma counties Le Flore and Sequoyah.
Fort Smith has a sister city relationship with Cisterna, Italy, site of the World War II Battle of Cisterna fought by the United States Army Rangers commanded by Fort Smith native William O. Darby.

Fort Smith lies on the Arkansas-Oklahoma state border, situated at the junction of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers, also known as Belle Point. The city began as a western frontier military post in 1817 and would later become well-known for its role in the settling of the "Wild West" and its law enforcement heritage.

In 2007, Fort Smith was selected by the US Department of the Interior to be the location of the new US Marshal Service National Museum.

Fort Smith has seen a national surge in popularity due to the recent success of the Oscar nominated film True Grit, a 2010 Western film directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and starring Jeff Bridges, which is set in and around historic Fort Smith in the 1870s.

Some History about Fort Smith, Arkansas
The site of Fort Smith became part of the United States in the Louisiana Purchase (1803). Soon after, the Pike Expedition (1806) explored the Arkansas River. Fort Smith was founded in 1817 as a military post, but the Army abandoned the first Fort Smith in 1824 and moved 80 miles further west to Fort Gibson. Army sutler and land speculator John Rogers (who some genealogists claim to be an ancestor to 20th-century Oklahoma comedian Will Rogers) bought up former government-owned lands and promoted growth of the new civilian town of Fort Smith, eventually influencing the federal government to re-establish a strong military presence at Fort Smith during the era of Indian Removal and the Mexican War.

Fort Smith's name comes from General Thomas Adams Smith (1781-1844), who commanded the United States Army Rifle Regiment in 1817, headquartered near St. Louis. General Smith had ordered Army topographical engineer Stephen H. Long (1784-1864) to find a suitable site on the Arkansas River for a fort. General Smith never visited the town or forts that bore his name.

In 1838 the Army moved back into the old military post near Belle Point, and expanded the base as part of the federal policy of removing Cherokees and Choctaws from their ancestral homelands in the Southeast and resettling the survivors in the nearby Indian Territory. Many displaced Native Americans settled down in Fort Smith and Van Buren, while Sebastian County was formed in 1851, split from Crawford County in the north of the Arkansas River. In 1858, Fort Smith became a Division Center of the Butterfield Overland Mail's 7th Division route across Indian Territory from Fort Smith to Texas and a junction with the mail route from Memphis, Tennessee.

The fort was occupied by the Confederate Army during the early years of the U.S. Civil War. Union troops under General Steele took control of Fort Smith on September 1, 1863 and maintained command in the area until the war ended in 1865. The town became a haven for runaway slaves, orphans, Southern Unionists, and other victims of the ferocious guerrilla warfare then raging in the Border States. Federal troops abandoned the post of Fort Smith for the last time in 1871. The town continued to thrive despite the absence of federal troops.

Two of Fort Smith's most notable historic figures were Judge Isaac Parker and William Henry Harrison Clayton. In 1874, William Henry Harrison Clayton was appointed United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas by President Ulysses S. Grant. Fort Smith was a bustling community full of brothels, saloons and outlaws across the river from Indian Territory. William Clayton realized that a strong judge would be necessary to bring law and order to the region. He knew of a strong judge in Isaac Parker. There was a problem, Judge Parker had been appointed Chief Justice of Utah Territory and confirmed by the US Senate. With the help of President Grant and US Senator Powell Clayton, former governor of Arkansas, William Clayton was able to undo that appointment and redirect Judge Parker to Fort Smith.
Judge Isaac Parker served as US District Judge from 1875-1896. He was nicknamed the "Hanging Judge" because in his first term after assuming his post he tried eighteen people for murder, convicted fifteen of them, sentenced eight of those to die, and hanged six of them on one day. Over the course of his career in Fort Smith, Parker sentenced 160 people to hang, of those 79 actually were executed on the gallows. Judge Parker represented the only real law the rough and tumble frontier border town had at the time. His courthouse is now a National Historic Site where "More men were put to death by the U.S. Government... than in any other place in American history."

William Clayton was appointed US Attorney by four different presidents and later served as Chief Justice of Indian Territory. He was instrumental in achieving statehood for Oklahoma and together with Territorial Governor Frank Frantz, carried the Oklahoma Constitution to President Teddy Roosevelt after that state was admitted in 1907. Governor Frantz and Judge Clayton both lost their territorial positions when Oklahoma was admitted to the Union. Fort Smith foresaw an economic boom in World War I and the 1920s by the US Armed Forces in the Fort Chaffee Military Reservation established east of the city.

Points of Interest in Fort Smith, Arkansas

  • Fort Smith National Historic Site, the most prominent landmark, which includes the remains of the original 1817 fort on the Arkansas River. Inside is the restored courtroom of the famed "Hangin' Judge" Isaac C. Parker, and the dingy frontier jail aptly named "Hell on the Border." Eventually, this would become the unofficial nickname for all of Fort Smith.
  • Belle Grove Historic District, a 22-block area in downtown Fort Smith comprised nearly 25 restored homes that span 130 years of varying architectural styles.
  • Miss Laura's Social Club, a former brothel and the only remaining building from the Row, is home to the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau and the only former house of prostitution on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Fort Chaffee, primarily used as a training facility by regional National Guard and Reserve Corps units as well as active military units from other installations. In 1958, the entertainer Elvis Presley stopped off at Fort Chaffee en route to his basic training in Texas. It was here that the public information officer John J. Mawn told a news conference that Presley would receive the standard "G.I. haircut" and would resemble a "peeled onion".
  • Old Fort Days Rodeo, Fort Smith's annual Old Fort Days Rodeo and Barrel-Racing Futurity offers nearly ten days of Wild West activities. It has been held every May since the mid-1930s and is now rated as one of the top all around rodeos in the country.
  • Hanging Judge Border Feud High School Rodeo, the rodeo is held every March or April schedule permitting. This event is held at Kay Rodgers Park, and includes all of your usual rodeo events as well as the spring livestock show. The events are open to any high school students.
  • Fort Smith Riverfront Blues Fest, since it began in 1991, the Riverfront Blues Festival has become one of the biggest, hottest and jazziest annual June events in western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, attracting jazz aficionados from a wide area of the blues-rich south, and "name" blues artists and performers from all over. The two-day event makes for a delightful music-filled weekend in Fort Smith, hearing blues, blues, blues on the banks of the Arkansas River.
  • Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair, One of the largest bi-state fairs in the nation, Fort Smith's Arkansas-Oklahoma State Fair attracts thousands of fair-goers during its ten-day run in late September. They come to see exhibitor competition in everything from arts and crafts to livestock, and enjoy carnival rides, the midway excitement, nightly big-name grandstand entertainment, and plenty of good food.
  • Fort Smith Airshow, Sponsored by the 188th Fighter Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard, the spectacular Fort Smith Airshow occurs bi-annually every other spring or fall.

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