1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Fort Smith

FORT SMITH, a city and the county-seat of Sebastian county, on the extreme W. border of Arkansas, U.S.A., lying about 440 ft. above sea-level, on the S. bank of the Arkansas river, at its junction with the Poteau, and at the point where the Arkansas breaks through the Boston mountains. Pop. (1890) 11,311; (1900) 11,587, of whom 2407 were of negro descent and 684 were foreign-born; (1910 census) 23,975. Transportation is afforded by the river and by six railways, the St Louis & San Francisco, the St Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern, the Arkansas Central, the Fort Smith & Western, the Midland Valley and the Kansas City Southern. A belt line round the business centre of the city facilitates freight transfers. Some of the business streets are unusually broad, and the streets in the residential district are well shaded. Fort Smith is the business centre of a fine agricultural country and of the Arkansas coal and natural gas region. It has extensive wholesale jobbing interests and a large miscellaneous trade, partly in its own manufactures, among which are cotton and timber products, chairs, mattresses and other furniture, wagons, brooms and bricks. In 1905 the total value of the factory product was $2,329,454, an increase of 66.2% since 1900. The public schools have a rich endowment: the proceeds of lands (about 200 acres) once belonging to the local military reservation, which—except the part occupied by a national cemetery—was given by Congress to the city in 1884. Near the centre of the city are a Catholic academy, convent and infirmary; and there is a Carnegie library. A United States army post was established here in 1817; the town was laid out in 1821; and the county was created in 1851. Fort Smith was incorporated as a town in 1842, and was chartered as a city in 1845. All transportation was by river and wagon until 1876, when the railway was completed from Little Rock. The military post, in earlier years the chief depôt for the western forts, was abandoned in 1871. During the Civil War Fort Smith was strongly in sympathy with the Confederacy. The fort was seized by state troops in April 1861, and was reoccupied by the Union forces in September 1863. There was considerable unrest due to border “bushwhacking” throughout the war, and several skirmishes took place here in 1864. The area of the city was more than doubled in 1905.