Fort Smith has been named the fifth-place western town on True West Magazine’s 2014 Top Western Towns.
Dodge City, Kan., won the top award. The towns will be featured in the February 2014 issue, which is scheduled to go on newsstands on Jan. 7.
Magazine editors listed the following as some of the reasons for Fort Smith’s western heritage.
• The ghost of Judge Isaac Parker is still around, in places like the “Hell on the Border” jail, a replica gallows, Judge Isaac Parker’s courtroom and a slew of exhibits on outlaws and lawmen at the Fort Smith National Historic Site.
• The Fort Smith Museum of History, located in the 1907 Atkinson-Williams Warehouse Building, holds the original furnishings of Judge Parker, as well as information on legends such as Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves.
• A good place to start a visit is Miss Laura’s Social Club, a former sporting house that now serves as the town’s official visitors center. The gracious, two-story Victorian “hotel” was the first brothel to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“Fort Smith is a legendary name and place,” True West Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell, said in a statement. “So much Old West history is tied to the town — and is preserved for modern visitors to see. Fort Smith is more than worthy of the designation as a Top Western Town.”
This is the ninth year True West has presented this annual award. Editors base their selection on criteria demonstrating how each town has preserved its history through old buildings, museums and other institutions, events, and promotions of historic resources.