Saturday, March 23, 2024

Goodbye Arkansas River

 Location: Springhill Corps of Engineers Campground; Fort Smith, Arkansas

Today is my fourth day here and my last. Tomorrow is moving day and I'll be turning away from the Arkansas River and start my return trip back south to Louisiana. I've been following the river and camping on its banks for the last 3 weeks. This is my 8th COE campground along the river. All of them have had their own special appeal and evoked different emotions. I'll get into those more in my wrap-up at the end of the trip. 

The obligatory road view showing typical northwest Arkansas along the interstate.

For the last few campgrounds, I've been showing up earlier than the check-in time without a problem. It caught up with me this time and I had to wait about an hour and a half before my campsite became vacant. There was a nice pavilion parking area where I was able to sit and wait. The weather was great and it really wasn't much of a problem.

This is my campsite and it isn't what I've been used to a the last campgrounds in that I can't clearly see the river. I can see it through the trees but it isn't clearly.

I am in a peaceful location and this is the view out my back window.

There were 3 things I wanted to see while camped here and a 4th was added at the last minute. First was the Lock and Dam which was a little bit of a bust since there wasn't a good viewing location of the structures. The COE needs to change that so the public can see what they are doing and learn from it.
This is the best view I could get. The locks are on the left with the dam in the middle and what looks like a powerhouse on the right but I couldn't confirm that.
I got this picture of the dam while out on my walk today. The weather was almost perfect. Just a little nip in the air but definitely shorts and tee shirt weather.

The second location was 50/50 shot because it was more of a museum than anything else and museums have not always been winners with me. Yeppers, I'm just a little jaded about them. It was an above average museum and to top it off, it was free. It was the Fort Smith National Historic Site. It tells the story of Fort Smith over the centuries. One of the main highlight is Judge Parker's court house and history. He handed out justice to the frontier world of Oklahoma back in the late 1800's. One of his many duties was to settle disputes between the Indian tribes in the "Indian nations" (Oklahoma). Later on he took care of criminals that used the "nations" as a large hide-out in between crimes. Judge Parker would send out Deputy Marshals to round up the bad guys and bring them back to Fort Smith to be tried in his court. The marshals were expected to bring them back alive and as an incentive to do so, the marshals were not paid or paid less if they killed the criminals. There were lots of public hangings but over his 21 years as Federal District Judge he was instrumental in cleaning up the territory. If this all sounds a little familiar, that may be because you've seen Clint Eastwood's movie,,,, "Hang 'Em High". It was an interesting stop and I could have spent a few more hours there if I had wanted. In terms of it's a small world, I met a woman that worked there who was from the town my daughter lives in. "It's a small world after all,,,,,,

The Fort Smith National Historic Site. A big, free museum.

The jailhouse floor. The prisoners slept on the floor and the guard was locked in a room. I guess that was in case he fell asleep.

A lot of information was in this area.

A replica of Judge Parker's Courtroom
The 3rd place of my original 3 locations was the Fort Smith National Cemetery. I've always been drawn to National Cemetery's around the country. I have found them in some unexpected places like the Battle of Little Big Horn or Battle of New Orleans. I haven't counted them up but it has probably been a couple of dozen. It is my way of showing respect to the ones that have went before us. Remember,,,,, Veterans are people who at one point in their lives wrote a blank check to the people and government of the United States of America for an amount up to and including their lives. 

Nice entry gates.

A Garden of Stones.
By congressional act, every National Cemetery must have a Superintendent's Lodge. The two story red building behind the flagpole is it. They are usually pretty fancy.

This surprised me and something I've never seen before. Personalized headstones. I couldn't find an answer as to why so I just assumed it was graves before it became a National Cemetery.

The 4th place was added on to the list since it was in the area of the 3rd and 4th things. It was the United States Marshals Museum. It is not a government run place like the National Historic place so they charge an entry fee. For a veteran, it cost me $10.00 to wander around the place. It is a very good place that tells of the history of the Marshal service. I spent about an hour and a half there and could easily have stayed longer. One interesting thing that I learned was that Fredrick Douglas was the first black U.S. Marshal. He was appointed by President Hayes to the Washington D.C. district. It was a few years ago that I explored the town where one of the debates between Lincoln and Douglas took place.

It is my understanding that the Marshals Museum was built with nothing but private donations. It is a really nice looking building right along the river.

I forgot what this picture was about.

This surprised me. I'm still not sure if I was never taught about Douglas being a U.S. Marshal or if I was, I forgot. Sometimes surprises are nice.
Like I said, I'm turning south tomorrow and will have a tow of about 100 miles, mostly on 2-lane mountain roads, to an Arkansas State Park. It is located 2,000 feet higher in elevation than where I'm at now and is supposed to have some fantastic views from the mountaintop. It is called Queen Wilhelmina State Park.

Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe I'll Cya down the road.  

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting Darrell! My favorite Judge Parker memory is John Wayne in True Grit. Thanks for sharing.