Fort Smith is located in northwest Arkansas and borders Oklahoma. It is the county seat of Sebastian County. The city has a population of 80,286 which makes it the second largest city in Arkansas behind Little Rock. It is located in the River Valley of Arkansas between the Ouachita mountains in the south and the Boston and Ozark mountains of the north and a gateway city to the Ozarks.
In 1817 Fort Smith was established as a military fort next to Indian territory in Oklahoma to keep the peace between the native Osage tribes and the recently relocated Cherokee groups. It is located at the junction of the Arkansas river and the Poteau river at a place that early French explorers called Belle Point. The military fort was named after General Thomas A. Smith, the military's district commander. The military later relocated to nearby Fort Chaffee but the civilian settlers remained keeping the name of the fort and establishing a western frontier town that was often the last genteel layover for people from all walks of life before excursions into Indian Oklahoma including soldiers en route to the Mexican War in the Southwest. Later Fort Smth became a popular stop for westward expansionists, gold rush diggers, and those seeking better opportunities due to the Great Depression and Dust Bowl of the 20th century. Today as the second largest city in the state, the municipality and surrounding area is a major economic hub for the state of Arkansas with many major corporations with roots in the city still in operation and employing thousands. The downtown area and commercial zones are usually busy with voluminous traffic most days but beyond that one will find quiet residential zones and woods. Recently due to economic trends in the U.S. economy, some major factories and plants have closed and/or moved resulting in a swelling of the unemployed population and an uptick in local taxes.