Sunday, September 4, 2016

2016 Epic Road Trip - Days 106 - 110

Days 106-110

August 27, 2016 through Aug 31, 2016

Fort Smith National Historic Site, AR to Hot Springs, AR

I spent a day touring Fort Smith, Arkansas, and it was quite interesting.  As we pushed the Cherokee Indians west following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Thomas Jefferson incorrectly assumed that the western lands were vacant and figured it would take white settlers 1,000 years to settle the West.  In fact, it only took 50 years. As fate would have it the Osage Indians were in the area.  So, we built Fort Smith in 1817 to have a base in which our military could operate to keep peace between the Osage and Cherokees.  It was used for only a few years.

The white settlers had moved as far west as Fort Smith by the 1830s.  The settlers and politicians convinced the War Department that there could be a threat of Indian attack since they were right across the river, so a second Fort Smith was built in 1838, this time with stone walls able to withstand heavy cannon fire.  But, alas, there was no attack and the extreme fortifications were never tested in combat.

The heavy stone used in the second fort.
By the 1870s, the Fort became used by the US Marshalls, US Commissioner and the Courts.  Arkansas was the farthest west district, and it was the largest, deadliest and busiest of the federal district courts.  The basement, once a mess hall, became a primitive jail with two big cells which held up to 50 men together in each cell.  Prisoners named it "Hell-on-the-Border."

Paddy Wagon

Judge Isaac C. Parker (the Hanging Judge) presided here and sentenced 160 persons to be hanged.  There was an interesting little museum at the visitor center of the Fort.

The following 5 pictures are taken of a wide panel summarizing the life of one outlaw, Henry Starr.  He was quite a busy guy.

The gallows, rebuilt from a photo taken of the original gallows.  (Photography was prohibited at hangings.)

Next stop was Hot Springs, Arkansas.  The street is lined with grand old buildings which held hotels and spas.  A couple are still open.  There was a faucet on the street where people were filling jugs with Hot Springs water.  Decided to fill a glass for myself, for whatever magical mystical powers or minerals might be in the water.  Didn't realize that it came out of the facet at about 125 degrees, so I couldn't drink it until it was in the fridge for a day.  Hot Springs is a pretty little town; would be nice to return and explore some more someday.

Sign in Hot Springs, Arkansas

Outside the door of the RV in the morning.
After Hot Springs I meandered east and south, ending at Biloxi, MS.

Interesting mural painted on a building
Ryder modeling her new sun visor
It is now August 31, and a tropical storm is blowing up the gulf coast of Florida and along Alabama and Biloxi.  I'm planning on cutting the trip short by one day and heading back to St. Augustine early in the morning.  There is one more post planned for this blog, a wrap-up of some of the statistics, highlights of the trip and other items that didn't make it into the printed blog.

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