Jill M. Rohrbach
This is a story with Arkansas roots. The film is based on the novel of the same name written by Charles Portis. Portis was from Hamburg, Arkansas, and his character Rooster Cogburn was patterned after a real deputy marshal from Fort Smith’s frontier days.
Fort Smith is full of Wild West stories that make its history and heritage lively and exciting. The keeper of some of that history for the past 100 years is the Fort Smith Museum of History. It celebrates its centennial this year with special exhibits and events, the first of which kicks off today with a Mardi Gras fundraiser.
The museum offers permanent and traveling exhibits and programs, and an audio tour. Focusing on life on the frontier and the Civil War and reconstruction, it also houses an old-time working soda fountain, antique vehicles, home appliances, toys, furniture and hundreds of photos that detail life in Fort Smith in the 1900s. The facility touches on World War I, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and the Dust Bowl. Special exhibits planned for the year include: “Bass Reeves and Fort Smith’s African-American History;” “American Indian Realism;” “The Fort in Flight: Bud Mars and the City’s Aviation History;” “Boom and Slash! Weapons from the Museum Collection;” and, “Return to the Commissary.”
If you haven’t been to the museum, you should check it out. Or if you have been, this is a good year to revisit because of the special exhibits and events. And, of course, the fact that there is a soda fountain is a good reason to go too.
The operates Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children 6-15, and free for children under 6. Admission is free to the lobby, where visitors can access the gift shop, pharmacy and soda fountain. It is fully handicapped-accessible using an elevator and ramps for easy access to all the exhibits. An entrance ramp is located at the South 4th Street entrance. The facility is available for group tours and for after-hours events by special arrangement. Visit the museum at 320 Rogers Ave. or phone 479-783-7841 for more information.
Click here to read an article about Fort Smith and the museum.