The Group Travel Leader

MAR 2017

The online home of The Group Travel Leader, America's leading publication for the group travel industry. Articles on hot destinations, attractions, news and travel trends from across the country and around the world.

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Page 55 of 67

M A R C H 2 0 1 7 5 6 A M E R I C A ' S C R O S S R O A D S As people explore the grounds, they will find an American f lag with 37 stars, just as the fort would have displayed during the mid- 19th century, as well as the federal court's notorious gallows. There is also a Trail of Tears National Historic Trail along the Arkansas River, recognizing the forced migration of Southwestern Indian tribes. Four times each year, Fort Smith holds a "Night Court," where the public gathers in the courthouse to watch actors play out real transcripts from murder trials that took place during the 1800s and 1900s. After a discussion, the audience decides on a verdict, and the historical outcome is then revealed. Other events throughout the year include Civil War re-enactments, artillery demonstrations and discussions led by Native American groups. w w w . n p s . g o v/ f o s m St. Joseph, Missouri Once a luxury hotel, the Patee House marks the beginning of the Pony Express mail service, as well as the end of Jesse James, both icons in Western lore. "In 1858, John Patee built this hotel knowing that people would need a place to stay along the route out West," said Gary Chilcote, director of the museum. Courtesy Patee House Museum A Pony Express office is re-created in the Patee House Museum in St. Joseph, where the service was founded. Visitors get a glimpse of life on the Arkansas frontier at Fort Smith National Historic Site. During the 1860s, the hotel brief ly housed the headquarters of the Pony Express, which played a crucial role in communication between the East and West before the telegraph was introduced. These horseback riders confronted outlaws, endured Indian attacks and withstood weather conditions to carry messages across untamed land, completing the passage in just 10 days. During the Civil War, Union marshals took control of the hotel and used the upstairs office as a courtroom. At least seven men were taken across the street for public hangings, and visitors can find a replica of the gallows in the museum. In 1882, the legendary outlaw and train robber Jesse James was shot and killed by Robert Ford in his home just a block from the hotel, and the house has been relocated to the museum grounds. Several items from his grave are featured inside. "We don't try to make him a hero," said Chilcote. "We tell the story like it is." To commemorate this colorful past, the house contains two f loors of exhibits. Groups can climb aboard an 1860-era train or take a whirl on a 28-foot carousel. Other highlights include a blacksmith shop, a dressmaker's shop and a wing with Western art by George Warfel. Some of the paint- ings depict famous Westerners that stayed at the hotel during its prime. In June, the city will take part in the National Pony Express Re-Ride, an annual re-enactment of the daring horseback journey between St. Joseph and Sacramento, California. More than 600 riders will participate in the relay, which lasts 10 days, just as the journey did during the 1800s. Many people come out to watch the event. w w w . p o n y e x p r e s s j e s s e j a m e s . c o m Courtesy Patee House Museum Jesse James Home at the Patee House Museum

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