|Museum of Tools||1862 Bronze Napolean Cannon|
1908 American Fire Engine Company Steam Pumper
Photographs by Stan Kujawa
Court of Judge Isaac C. Parker
1920's Soda Fountain
(The soda fountain will be closed for remodeling during January and February of 2015).
There are many wonderful exhibits at the Fort Smith Museum of History. Here are a few highlights.
J. Fred Patton Memorial Cell Phone Tour
By calling a local number on your cell phone, you may hear a recorded tour narrated by noted Fort Smith historian, J. Fred Patton. The tour carries you through the Time Line exhibit beginning with the establishment of the first fort in 1817 up through twentieth-century Fort Smith.
From the Native American Indians to modern day residents, the Time Line presents one vignette after another depicting how day-to-day life was lived by the inhabitants of the region. Our Time Line is the core exhibit, located on the first floor of the Museum.
Learn about Fort Smith's famous son and World War II hero William O. Darby. Darby organized and trained the First Ranger Battalion, the elite combat force also known as "Darby's Rangers."
Visit the 1920's Soda Fountain and enjoy an old fashioned ice cream soda or sundae. Relive the Good Old Days in the reproduction pharmacy featuring artifacts from local drug stores. (The soda fountain will be closed for remodeling during January and February of 2015).
The Telephone Exhibit
See the evolution of the telephone from an 1880's telegraph machine and an early switchboard to modern fiber-optic cable. This hands-on exhibit was made possible and maintained by The Telephone Pioneers, retired Southwestern Bell employees.
Niloak Pottery: An Arkansas Craft. View selections from the museum's extensive collection through March 28, 2015. Manufactured from 1909 to 1947 in Benton, Saline County, Arkansas, Niloak was collected all over the United States. The exhiabit includes art pottery Missionware known for its swirl patterns, as well as industrial castware.
A Museum of Antique Tools A replica of a nineteenth century woodworking shop, this exhibit houses perhaps the largest collection of antique woodworking tools in the country. This collection contains both hand and foot operated tools. Many of the tools are more than one hundred years old and date back to colonial times.
Garrison Avenue Exhibit
From the earliest days of Fort Smith's existence as a city, Garrison Avenue has served as both gateway from across the Arkansas River and the very economic heart of Fort Smith. The most prosperous businesses and the most important events took place there, and much of the history remains to be seen today. Originally an Eagle Scout project by Jeremy Eichling and Jon Thompson, these model storefronts recreate the appearance of three prominent Garrison Avenue locations as they may have appeared in the first quarter of the twentieth century.
On the Air. An interactive exhibit telling the story of radio and TV broacst history in Fort Smith. Visitors may experience a radio and TV broadcast studio.
Progress in a Small Frontier Town: The Story of the 1907 Atkinson-Williams Warehouse Building
The Atkinson-Williams Warehouse Building, now the home of the Fort Smith Museum of History, has an interesting history in itself. Exploring the businesses to occupy the building before it was purchased by the museum, the exhibit comes to life with photographs of the different eras and artifacts on loan and from the museum's collection. Unique architectural features of the building are addressed to answer questions frequently asked by visitors. Listed on the national Register of Historic Places, the building has a long and fascinating history.
In the Shadow of the Gallows
Originally presented in 1998, the exhibit addresses the changing perspectives of the federal executions at Fort Smith from 1873-1896 through photographic images, newspaper accounts of the executions, artifacts and souvenirs. At the time of the Federal Court, "hanging day" was an important event and drew large crowds. The dubious notoriety associated with Judge Isaac C. Parker, the lawmen, and outlaws was downplayed during the first half of the twentieth century. During the 1950s, this part of Fort Smith history emerged as a tourist attraction with the establishment of the Fort Smith National Historic Site. Today, the gallows remain an extremely popular attraction.
Black History in Fort Smith
Meet promient families and everyday people who were born, raised and lived in Fort Smith and had an impct on the history of the area. The exhibit traces the city's rich African American History from the free black soldiers who arrived to settle the first fort in 1817 through the Civil War and the years of Judge Isaac C. Parker and the famous Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves. Businesses, schools, churches and families are revealed through the facinating history of Fort Smith's thriving African American community.