So we whipped on over to Fort Smith, Arkansas last Sat to shoot the Judge Parker's Marshals club match on the Sunday. Was slightly chilly when we got there but we rattled around a few of the shops and settled in to the hotel.
After a good breakfast we went to the range and shot 6 stages with Naildriver, Ambler, Just Charlie, Trail Agent, Trooper Dick, CS Brady, Calloway, Spitoon Paul, Lefty and forgive me if I have forgotten anyone else (think there is a few). Obviously the Saturday is popular with a good turnout the day before but we had enough for a posse and shot anyway!
The sun came out and by the time we were finished shooting you could discard the slicker so we headed out to check out some of the sights. There are some beautiful buildings down Garrison St and we went down to the once popular (late 1800's popular) red-light district.
Miss Laura's, one of the more renowned houses of then Fort Smith's Front Street along the river, is now a tourist information centre with the building having been restored to look like it did in the very early 1900's.
It features some remaining stain glass panels in the entry and all the rest has been reproduced. There is reproduction furniture, and some actual pieces owned by Miss Laura, photos of some of the girls and two lovely ladies who will tell you all the history of the place.
Miss Laura bought the parlour in the district known as “The Row” for a princely sum of $3000, a loan that she repaid in 17months and sold it in 1911 for $47,000.
In 1910 it's said the golden years had passed and politicians were being pressured by the community to clean up Front Street. Some of the other brothels met 'a questionable freak accident' in the January, sending scantily clad ladies and their embarrassed customers into the street and the incident became known as “the night of the lingerie parade” (sounds like a good name for a saloon night!)
Fort Smith was known as “Hell on the Border” , on the edge of Indian Territory, and known for Judge Isaac C. Parker – the Hanging Judge. The present gallows is a reproduction as the original was destroyed after the last execution in 1896. Over 23 years it saw the execution of 86 men in 39 separate executions.
The barracks-courthouse jail, gallows, and courtroom were very interesting lots of information inside about some of the outlaws such as Belle Starr, Dalton and Younger gangs to name a few. Pearl Starr (Belles daughter) also had a brothel lit by a red star light surrounded by lit pearls.
We missed the Fort Smith Museum of History, it's closed Sundays and Mondays, little else to do then between here and Byahlia, Mississippi we headed back home for a couple of days. Next time we will head over on the Friday and catch the Museum and shoot Saturday.
Photos are on my phone so once transferred will add to FB. Check out the links for more info though!
We'll be back!
Cheers Kat xo