June 23, 2016

Road Trip: Arkansas (Fort Smith and Trolley Museum)

May 10-We headed to Fort Smith and toured a few places before going to dinner. One of the places we toured was the Fort Smith Trolley Museum. The Bean was head over heels for the old trains inside and even more thrilled with the way they were restoring a lot of the trolleys. It was interesting to know that one of the trolleys being restored actually ran in Hot Springs, Arkansas and carried passengers all through the city. Here's a quick recap of our time in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Before heading to For Smith we took a short break at Pickles Gap Village in Pickles Gap near Conway, Arkansas. The Village had a kiddie park and shops with locally made crafts and food.


After Pickles Gap we arrived in Fort Smith. The first place we toured was Miss Laura's Social Club.
This social club was owned by Laura Ziegler and operated as a brothel from 1903-1910.

A room of one of the girls.

How the house looked when it sat vacant. I was going to crop this photo down to where just the framed picture was in the shot, but the wallpaper was too wonderful not to share.



The house now has been made into a museum with many of the original items still inside the home on display. One of the items is a copy of the original doctor's form the girls had to get in order to be considered "clean" for the time period. Miss Laura ran a clean and well-kept house and required the girls to see a doctor once a year.


The town of Fort Smith got its name because it was once a fort. The original frontier fort was built in 
1817 to prevent war between the Osage and Cherokee Indians.

Fort Smith is now a National Park and contains a lot of history on the grounds around the fort. It holds the original gallows (maintenance has been done through the years to preserve them). 




Executions that took place at Fort Smith are listed on a plaque and also list the dates in which each one was carried out. The gallows were used as federal justice from 1873-1896, with the last one taking place in July of that year.


Judge Parker's courtroom where most of the men hung in the gallows were found guilty of their crimes. It is believed that he set 160 men to be hanged.

Fort Smith also held a jail inside the fort.

Not that jails nowadays are a comfort, but they are a lot better now than they were then. Cold, damp floors to sleep on, a shared fireplace and toilet area, and who knows what kind of sickness your floor/bunk-mates were carrying.

The Bean sitting inside one of the cells of the prison. The rooms were hardly big enough to turn around in.

On a positive "note," a white board was set up during Mother's Day weekend in the jail exhibit to allow visitors to write a short note about their mothers.
The Bean wrote: "Be Creative" in purple, but some of the others were comical, heart-warming, and even serious.


Outside of Fort Smith sits part of the Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears was set up for Indians being removed from their lands and moved to Oklahoma land.

The Bean sitting on the line of Arkansas and Indian Territory as it were in 1834.


The Trail of Tears overlook at Fort Smith.



The walls of the barracks, cold house, and weapons storage of the fort still present on the grounds.


After touring Fort Smith we checked out the Fort Smith Trolley Museum.

The boys fell in love with the Frisco engine sitting in front of the trolley museum.



And we couldn't help but love the restoration of the old trolley from Hot Springs being restored. 



The Bean is in his happy place.



After the Fort Smith Trolley Museum we ate dinner at Bricktown Brewery and boy were we in for a nice surprise...

Not only did they have some of the tastiest stone-baked pizza we've had, but they also had brewed beer made with Willamette Valley hops and Oregon blueberries.

The microbrew on the left is the Bluesberry made with Oregon blueberries, and the microbrew on the right is the beer made with the Willamette Valley hops. They were both really good!

Lots of history in and around Fort Smith, Arkansas.



If you're traveling and find yourself on the Arkansas and Oklahoma border, stay awhile in Fort Smith and check out some of these places.  




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