Fort Smith-Ft. Towson Military Road -- Talimena Scenic Byway, Leflore Co. OK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 34° 47.856 W 094° 56.773
15S E 321955 N 3852324
Quick Description: The 1832 Fort Smith-Ft. Towson Military Road was used to remove the Choctaws to Indian Territory on the Trail of Tears. Today this tragic route is a historic site on the Talimena Scenic Byway, Leflore Co. OK
Location: Oklahoma, United States
Date Posted: 12/6/2017 7:27:07 PM
Waymark Code: WMX77Z
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Bernd das Brot Team
Views: 1

Long Description:
Visitors who want to walk on the Old Military Road between Fort Towson OK and Fort Smith AR can do so by taking a short trail to the old road just a few yards from the parking lot at the Old Military Road Picnic Area along the Talimena Scenic Byway.

Two signs at the Old Military Road trail which leads to the waymarked culvert. The waymarked sign reads as follows:

Legacy of the pick and shovel

The military road is one of many roads constructed by “pick and shovel” soldiers. During the exceptionally wet spring of 1832, a detachment of soldiers labored in rain and mud with hand tools and mule drawn scrapers to carve the 150-mile route over Winding Stair Mountain. This road, connecting Fort Smith and Fort Townsend, was built to defend the frontier, and also used to relocate the Choctaw tribe to Oklahoma.

Early Hollywood images of the cavalry charging to the rescue paint an exciting picture of US Army life in the 1800s. However, soldiers posted at frontier garrisons were more likely to wield picks and shovels than guns and sabers. Roadbuilding was an important military duty -- a chore for which soldiers received an extra gill of whiskey (equal to a half cup) and 15 cents a day."

Next to this sign, a second interpretive sign reads:

Travel Over Winding Stair Mountain

The old gravel road bed in front of this panel is a remnant of the military road of 1832. Early roads, like this one, ran north and south over the mountain. The road's steep grades and hairpin turns gave rise to the name Winding Stair Mountain. Wide enough for only one wagon, the military road of 1832 was well used because it provided the shortest route over the mountain. Imagine the difficulty of driving a team of mules or oxen over this rough, steep road.

Today, the Talimena Scenic Byway runs east and west along the mountain's Ridge and most travelers are here just to enjoy the drive. Winding Stair Truck Trail laid the foundation for the scenic byways when it was built in 1933 as a fire access road. Discovered by sightseers, the old fire road was linked with the Skyline Road on Rich Mountain, and in 1970, it was renamed the Talimena Scenic Drive.

Recognized for its outstanding recreational qualities, natural character, and beauty, this road became a National Forest Scenic Byway in 1988.

The Winding Stair Truck Trail was the first east-west road crossing this mountain. This gravel road paved the way for the Talimena Scenic Byway. As you travel down the road, look for remnants of the old roadbed alongside the current route."

From the National Park Service: (visit link)

"Talimena National Scenic Byway
Travel a short drive to the Talimena National Scenic Byway. Explore the golden valleys of a majestic byway and discover historic towns along the way. The Talimena Scenic Drive offers you more than 50 miles of the most breathtaking vistas our states have to offer. Plus, surrounding the Talimena Scenic Drive, you will find historic gateway towns with open arms and outstanding events to fill your days."

From the Explore Southern History blog: (visit link)

"An Oklahoma Historic Road

Near the western end of the beautiful Talimena Drive National Scenic Byway, a park and interpretive signs mark the point where the historic Fort Smith to Fort Towson Military Road crossed Winding Stair Mountain.

The old road, faint traces of which can be seen in the park, was built by the U.S. Army in 1832. Connecting the frontier outposts of Fort Smith, Arkansas and Fort Towson, Oklahoma, the road was constructed by soldiers who labored in muddy conditions using hand tools and mule-drawn equipment.

For their labors, they received about 15 cents a day and the equivalent of half a cup of whiskey.

The military road was used to move supplies and men back and forth between the two important forts. It also became a vital route on the Trail of Tears when the Choctaw Nation was moved to this area of Oklahoma.

During the Civil War, Confederate troops regularly used the road during their movements in Indian Territory. Fort Towson was held by the South and troops from that point and other nearby camps followed the military road north through the Choctaw Nation during various raids and expeditions.

One of the most significant of these was the march north following the Red River Campaign that resulted in the Confederate victory at the Battle of Massard Prairie, Arkansas on July 27, 1864.

The road was also used by evacuees fleeing south from the intense and brutal fighting that raged across much of what is now Oklahoma.

Many Native American families were forced to flee their homes followed the road to safety.

The historic Fort Smith to Fort Towson Military Road remained in use by civilians after the forts were abandoned following the Civil War. Some portions are still in use today, but much of the route has been bypassed by modern highways.

The park is located on the Oklahoma section of the Talimena Scenic Drive. Visitors can see the trace of the old road and read the historic marker and several interpretive panels. There are also picnic tables and other facilities at the site."
Routes: Water Route

Address if available:
Old Military Road Picnic Area
Talimena Scenic BywayOK

Marker Website: [Web Link]

Additional Coordinates: Not Listed

Additional Information: Not listed

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Recent Visits/Logs:
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tugies visited Fort Smith-Ft. Towson Military Road -- Talimena Scenic Byway, Leflore Co. OK 6/1/2018 tugies visited it
Benchmark Blasterz visited Fort Smith-Ft. Towson Military Road -- Talimena Scenic Byway, Leflore Co. OK 11/11/2017 Benchmark Blasterz visited it

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