kansas native Bass Reeves was one of the first black lawmen west of the Mississippi River. (Photo: Arkansas Dept. of Parks & Tourism)
FORT SMITH, Ark. (City of Fort Smith) -- Fort Smith, AR has been named the number one "True Western Town" by True West Magazine for the year 2013.
This is the eighth year that the 60 year old monthly publication has named its top ten True Western Towns. "True West is one of the best sources for travel and tourism for fans of the Old West," says David Turk, Historian for the United States Marshals Service. "It's been considered one of the very best western history magazines for many years," says Turk.
According to a True West news release, "there are thousands of great towns in the American West, ones that exemplify the spirit and dedication of the pioneers who built and developed them. But 10 of them stand out-and they are the True Western Towns of 2013," according to their February 2013 issue, out on newsstands on January 1, 2013.
The designation is based upon an extensive application which was completed by a committee of individuals most familiar with how Fort Smith has preserved its history and heritage. The credit for Fort Smith's selection goes to many individuals and organizations according to Claude Legris, Executive Director of the Fort Smith Advertising and Promotion Commission. "Our community has always placed a high priority on preserving our colorful past and making sure that appreciation is passed on to future generations," says Legris. "We have 'branded' Fort Smith with our frontier heritage since the Convention and Visitors Bureau was established two decades ago. It's a 'natural' brand for Fort Smith because it's who and what we are," he says.
The magazine sums up the prestigious designation as being "given to towns that have made an important contribution to preserving their Old West heritage. But thanks to the largely unpaid and often anonymous army of preservationists and historical society members who identify, maintain and restore the buildings and artifacts of those days, we-as well as our children and grandchildren-have the chance to marvel at these irreplaceable relics where so much of our fabled history took place."
"The accolades for this accomplishment belong to the hundreds who have made our heritage a priority for many years," said Legris. "Miss Polly Crews, who was a member of the Arkansas Parks Recreation and Travel Commission, told us for years that 'our future was in our past,' and as usual, Miss Polly was right." Crews, who passed away six years ago was a passionate advocate for tourism, particularly in Western Arkansas.
(Source: City of Fort Smith)