Fort Smith Itinerary: True Grit & Butterfield
The Itinerary at a Glance
Relive America’s frontier past with John Butterfield as your group explores the path of the Butterfield Stagecoach that began in Missouri and stopped on the edge of civilization in Fort Smith, Arkansas – the setting of True Grit – before facing the dangers that lurked in the untamed Indian Territory.
3 Unique Experience on This Trip
- Miss Laura’s Visitors Center
- Fort Smith Trolley Museum
- Fort Smith National Cemetery
Duration: 3 Days
This Itinerary is Ideal For: All
Historic courthouse tour: the Butterfield Stagecoach made stops every 20 miles, which included Fayetteville, Arkansas. Here, your group will start their journey with a tour of the old courthouse where the stagecoach made its stop.
Headquarters House & historic driving tour: uncover stories about the Battle of Fayetteville and journey down the bloody corner of Dickson Street. Enjoy a driving tour of Fayetteville’s historic sites and visit the confederate cemetery.
19th century cooking class: learn how to prepare meals like they did in the 19th century.
Hotel & dinner: check-in at hotel and dinner at the Catfish Hole.
A & M Railroad excursion: explore The Natural State at its finest as you ride the rails from Northwest Arkansas down to historic Van Buren, Arkansas, aboard a vintage railcar on the scenic Arkansas & Missouri Railroad. The excursion will take your group on a journey through the majestic Ozark Mountains before entering the mighty Arkansas River Valley. Travel through a dark tunnel and over high trestles that offer the best views of the landscape you could hope to find. The excursion will conclude in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Miss Laura’s Visitors Center: “Miss Laura” will greet your group and give a guided tour of her fully restored Victorian mansion that was once known as the grandest bordello in the Wild West. One of seven houses of ill repute that once made up “the row” in Fort Smith’s red light district, Miss Laura’s is the only one to survive the test of time and is the first former bordello listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fort Smith National Historic Site: tour Judge Parker’s court, explore the jail once known as “hell on the border,” visit the gallows where dozens of vicious outlaws met their fate at the hands of “the hanging judge” and his “prince of hangmen,” and recount the harrowing stories of Bass Reeves and other deputy U.S. marshals who hunted outlaws in Indian Territory and inspired the iconic story of True Grit and many others.
Historic driving tour & downtown murals: follow the Butterfield Stagecoach path through Fort Smith’s architectural historic districts, hear colorful stories of the city’s early years, and discover the awe-inspiring murals painted along the walls of historic downtown by world-renowned artists.
Fort Smith National Cemetery: visit one of the few cemeteries where both Confederate and Union Soldiers are buried side by side. Here, you visit the grave of Judge Isaac C. Parker, as well as General William O. Darby, the famed leader of Darby’s Rangers – later, the Army Rangers – during WWII.
BBQ dinner with entertainment by Miss Laura’s Players: check-in at hotel and make your way to Riverfront Park for a delicious BBQ dinner along the banks of the Arkansas River. As your group enjoys dinner, Miss Laura’s players will entertain with a comedic performance of “The Medicine Show on Hanging Day.”
Fort Smith Trolley Museum: hop aboard a restored electric trolley and ride along Garrison Avenue on the same route that it ran in the 1920s, and learn more about early transportation.
Fort Smith Museum of History: browse artifacts and explore exhibits chronicling local and regional history as you walk through a timeline of growth and development that begins with the original 1817 military fort, continues through WWII with stories of how a local hero became the father of the modern day army rangers, and goes on to showcase the region’s on-air broadcast history.
Lunch at Taliano’s: a popular Italian restaurant located in the James Sparks home that was built in 1887. This Romanesque Victorian home features hand-carved fireplaces and original interiors and chandeliers.
Chaffee Crossing Historic District: learn the history of Fort Chaffee, built in 1941 to train WWII recruits, and tour the restored barber shop where Elvis Presley received the “buzz cut heard around the world” after his military enlistment in 1958. Your group can also visit the Chaffee Military and Vietnam Veterans Museums.
Potts Inn Museum: continue east to Pottsville, Arkansas, and visit one of the best preserved stagecoach stations on the Butterfield Overland Mail Route, the Potts Inn Museum. A restored antebellum home (circa 1850), it was built using slave labor and served as an overnight stop for the Butterfield Stagecoach. Five log structures that are located on the grounds now house hat and clothing collections from 1870. In addition to this, the museum has antique farm equipment on display.
Continue East to Little Rock and check in at hotel.