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Mythic FrontiersRemembering, Forgetting, and Profiting with Cultural Heritage Tourism$

Daniel R. Maher

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062532

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062532.001.0001

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Doubling Down on the Wager of Frontier Tourism

Doubling Down on the Wager of Frontier Tourism

Chapter:
(p.212) 8 Doubling Down on the Wager of Frontier Tourism
Source:
Mythic Frontiers
Author(s):

Daniel R. Maher

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062532.003.0008

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses squarely on the redoubling era (1980–present) of the frontier complex. In the face of neoliberalism, deindustrialization, and globalization, rates of tourists to historical sites and museums have declined as have disposable middle class incomes. Nationally and locally, the frontier complex has seen a decline in visitors and now competes with Indian gaming, eco-tourism, and culture tourism abroad. In Fort Smith, Arkansas, the once strong manufacturing city has turned increasingly toward cultural heritage tourism as its industrial base deteriorates. In 2007, Fort Smith won its bid to be home to the US Marshals Museum. Although this venture failed in Laramie, Wyoming, in 2002, and in Oklahoma City in 1990, it was met in Fort Smith with unbridled enthusiasm and the “cruel optimism” of becoming an economic engine for the region. This chapter examines these three attempts at constructing a US Marshals Museum while it critiques the popular notion that cultural heritage tourism is a sure bet.

Keywords:   deindustrialization, globalization, neoliberalism, Indian gaming, US Marshals Museum, Laramie, Wyoming, Oklahoma City, Fort Smith, Arkansas, cultural heritage tourism, cruel optimism

Baby sister, I was born game and I intend to go out that way.

Rooster Cogburn, True Grit

The recreation era of the frontier complex, 1920–1980, established frontier tourism in Fort Smith with Judge Parker’s courtroom, restored gallows, and refurbished military fort at the Fort Smith National Historic Site. But profits from the initial wager were not sustained and had to be supplemented with redoubled efforts such as we saw with the additions of Miss Laura’s Social Club as a visitor center in 1992 and the Bass Reeves monument in 2012. Despite a lackluster performance, Fort Smith is now poised for doubling down on the wager of cultural heritage tourism in the frontier complex in its quest to build the U.S. Marshals Museum. The tourist economy in the current redoubling era is significantly different from that of the recreation era. This is a national trend that has been going on for decades, not isolated to the “great recession,” and is particularly problematic for history museums.1

Today, the American landscape is strewn with struggling, bankrupt, and failed museums and cultural centers. Despite the impressiveness of the Great Platte River Road Archway, which stretches over Interstate 80 at Kearney, Nebraska, it has just emerged from bankruptcy, having been held afloat by city and county taxpayer support. In its first two years, 2000–2001, more than 200,000 visitors stopped annually, but it never approached or sustained its predicted attendance of 300,000 per year. By 2012 attendance was below 50,000. Building for tourism in the frontier complex is no sure bet, even if millions of people literally drive right underneath it.2 In Fort Dodge, Iowa, the Fort Museum celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2014. (p.213)

Doubling Down on the Wager of Frontier Tourism

Figure 8.1. Tourist reenactment at the Great Platte River Road Archway in Kearney, Nebraska. Travelers of Interstate 80 can tour exhibits and see reenactments of traveling, this one with Jack Kerouac’s On the Road on the seat beside the driver.

Photo by the author.

With a completely reconstructed log stockade and adjacent frontier town, this small nonprofit struggles to survive despite its visual grandeur.

In Oklahoma City, the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, originally conceived in 1994, has been under construction since 2006. Ninety-one million dollars later, the buildings and grounds stand empty and unfinished, stalled since 2012 awaiting millions more to complete and operate the facility. Incredibly, in the face of this dire predicament, great expectations for the museum are still assumed. Oklahoma State Representative David Dank declared in 2014, “It could be a real boon to this state. It is history, culture and heritage. It will draw thousands of people here every year and will pay for itself.”3 Implicit in this comment is an inherent faith that cultural heritage tourism will automatically result in profits for the facility and the community and that demand for such venues is nowhere near satiated.

A city considering building a new cultural center or museum would be well served to do its homework before investing any time, money, or energy (p.214) in the project. Recent research has uncovered some significant cautionary trends that counter the adage “If you build it, they will come.” First, the supply of museums and cultural arts centers has, at least for the moment, surpassed demand. Second, new building construction of this type exceeds estimated costs 80 percent of the time. A third significant finding is that hopes of continued donor support for keeping the doors open after construction often falls significantly short of expectations. These and other insightful observations were made in the 2012 Set in Stone report by the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago. The extensive study examined construction of new museums, cultural centers, and arts centers ranging in cost from $4 million to $335 million begun between 1994 and 2008.4

This bumpy economic stretch in frontier-complex tourism and support for cultural heritage centers is frequently attributed to the economic recession of the late 2000s, but seldom is it put into the larger economic context of neoliberal policies that led to the deindustrialization of America beginning in the early 1980s.5 The shift toward offshoring production of goods led to a direct change in the economy and a decline in wages and job security for millions of Americans. When it comes to spending money on domestic tourism of the frontier complex, it is just not the same environment as the post–World War II period. The 1950s and ’60s saw job growth, affordable cars, cheap gas, new interstates, and televisions full of Wild West stories to stoke the imagination and compel families to head out on vacation.

Understanding museum attendance patterns is difficult because research on it is sparse and plagued by inconsistent standards on collecting and sharing data. Cary Carson notes, “The truth of the matter is that nobody knows for sure what’s really going on. No national organization keeps statistics on museum attendance…. Nor is there an industry-wide formula for counting admissions.”6 This is problematic for a sector of the economy purported to be so valuable to the economy.

Reach Advisors, a New York–based museum industry research group, calls into question three assumptions frequently spoken by enthusiastic proponents of museums—that they are economic engines, that they educate people, and that they inspire people.7 The president of the board of the U.S. Marshals Museum and other community leaders in Fort Smith consistently maintain that they are not just building a museum but that it will be an economic engine for the region. There simply is not the empirical (p.215)

Doubling Down on the Wager of Frontier Tourism

Figure 8.2. Chickasaw National Capitol Building in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. Indian nations’ museums and cultural centers, coupled with gaming, represent stiff competition for the Fort Smith frontier complex.

Photo by the author.

evidence necessary to support this assertion. If museums were truly the economic engines they are claimed to be, so many of them and their communities would not be suffering economic shortfalls to the extent that they are. Educating and inspiring people turn out to be platitudes that do not differentiate museums from other activities that do the same thing. Returning to a textbook approach to cultural heritage tourism, we can add to these the problematic waning of “pull factors” and the declining cultural “push factors.”8

Mechanisms for pushing Americans into frontier complex tourism have changed significantly since 1980. The Soviet Union is gone, as is the plethora of westerns on television and in films. With the “tourismification” of the Wild West frontier completed during the recreation era, the process of “imagineering,” of instilling the frontier ethos in the minds of the youth, has not kept pace in the redoubling era, leaving a disconnection between supply and demand. Different frontiers are being constructed to capture the imaginations of would-be tourists and entice them to spend their money. The rise of ecotourism and culture tourism have paralleled (p.216) the globalization of the economy, while at home Indian gaming competes with and compounds the challenge of attracting tourists to the frontier complex.9

What television westerns, interstates, and affordable cars did for frontier tourism between 1950 and 1980, the Internet and income inequality have retracted. As the Fort Kearny State Park superintendent put it, “What took me thirty years to learn reading Time-Life magazine, you can now learn in two hours from Ken Burns.”10 The Wild West frontier complex attracted tourists in the past because the underlying infrastructure of the economy allowed it. Assuming that the same old strategies will work in today’s economy is not only unrealistic, it qualifies as what Lauren Berlant calls “cruel optimism.”11 Though it may create a lot of excitement and enthusiasm and recollections of family vacations for some, it is not economically viable to continue increasing the supply of frontier tourism without an equivalent increase in demand. Regardless, in a postindustrial economy of vacant manufacturing buildings, cities turn to packaging and marketing whatever commodity they have on hand. As Fort Smith watched its manufacturing base shrink over the past thirty years, it more aggressively turned to cultural heritage tourism. With a dig at the Whirlpool Corporation, which closed its local plant in 2012, community leaders often quip, “You can’t send our history to Mexico.”

The “#1 True Western Town”?

While the city of Fort Smith has actively wagered on frontier tourism since 1955, beginning in 2003 the city went all-in with the hopes of drawing the U.S. Marshals Museum to Fort Smith and hitting the frontier tourist jackpot. However, what many in Fort Smith do not fully realize is that two other cities have failed in this same wager, making the current attempt a case study in the economic vicissitudes of frontier cultural heritage tourism. What follows is an analysis of how the first two cities lost their gambles and how the latest one is doubling down despite long odds. We will look at them in reverse chronological order and make note of how each time, each community’s boosters believed it had the perfect location, how each city had great excitement and enthusiasm for the project, and then examine the ultimate results.

According to the Marshals Museum website, it was awarded to the city of Fort Smith because “Fort Smith was the natural choice to host the new Museum. Not only did the city leaders and the regional population lobby (p.217) for its presence, Fort Smith is a place of true authenticity.” The “natural” and the “authentic” are derived from the sixty-year-old mythic narratives firmly rooted at the Fort Smith National Historic Site and Miss Laura’s Visitor Center. The explanation goes on to link the location of the museum to the lure of the imagineered frontier complex: “It was the gateway to the Old West, an era ingrained in the American Imagination.” Fact and fiction blur as we read, “It was here that Judge Isaac C. Parker tried the fugitives arrested by the marshals. And who could forget it was here that the fictitious Rooster Cogburn began his search for the fictitious Tom Chaney in the popular movie True Grit.”

The museum website goes on to repeat phrases of mythic justice in Fort Smith: “The U.S. Marshals Service was the only law enforcement agency with the jurisdiction to enter Indian Territory”; the deputies “patrolled the vast 74,000 square mile territory”; and “the danger of the job and the violent criminals they faced resulted in the burial of more deputy marshals and special deputies in this region than anywhere else in the country.”12 The Marshals Museum immediately and seamlessly incorporated itself into the existing Fort Smith frontier complex, and vice versa—the Fort Smith frontier complex began to cannibalize the Marshals Museum.

In December 2012 the future looked bright for the Fort Smith frontier complex with the potential addition of the U.S. Marshals Museum—designed as a badge. It was announced then that Fort Smith had been chosen as the “#1 True Western Town of 2013” by True West Magazine. Elated by the news, Claude Legris, executive director of the Fort Smith Advertising and Promotion Commission, proudly said in an interview, “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.”13 The True West announcement was taken to be payout on the wager of frontier tourism.

What precisely this accolade meant, however, is debatable. True West is essentially a trade magazine intended to get people to travel to western states. Each year, it reveals a new “top ten Western town” list as a way of promoting tourism throughout the West writ large. All the winning towns invest in advertisements in the magazine, which features fantastic stories and pictures from the Wild West. These create the illusion that it is an actual magazine with historical information about the West and not just one long advertisement for frontier-complex tourism. Regardless, the Advertising and Promotion Commission was pleased with the results. (p.218) Arkansas Business, a weekly business journal, repeated the mantra: “The two versions of the movie ‘True Grit’ and the naming of Fort Smith as the future home of the United States Marshals Service national museum did much to solidify and expand the Fort Smith tourism brand.”14 It is said that for these reasons the Convention and Visitors Bureau applied for and ultimately received the “#1 True Western Town of 2013” title.

On the morning of the announcement, December 12, 2012, news of the award spread like a prairie fire through the frontier complex. Blog, Facebook, and Twitter posts from the visitors bureau, the Fort Smith Museum of History, the National Historic Site, and the Clayton House all trumpeted it as great tourism news. The Times Record ran an editorial the next day espousing the benefits likely to accrue.15 The editorial describes Fort Smith “both as Hell on the Border and the place that brought civilization to the West.” The editorial continues with a conflation of fiction and facts: “Portis’ well-known gallery of ruffians, rubes and rule-enforcers—Rooster Cogburn, Mattie Ross, Tom Chaney, LaBoeuf and Lucky Ned Pepper—have enough of the real to them that they live in our celebration of our town almost as much as the people we know walked here, Judge Isaac Parker, Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves, W.H.H. Clayton, Miss Laura and Belle Starr.” The imagineering of the frontier complex was pervasive for the occasion.

The True West press release announcing the decision ties the fate of the tourism industry in Fort Smith directly to the gallows. It dramatically begins, “They called him the ‘hanging judge.’ Isaac Parker certainly threw a big rope around Fort Smith, Arkansas, during his 21 years on the federal bench. His courtroom and jail—restored to their 1880s appearances—are part of the reason nearly one million visitors came to town in 2012.”16 A bit of fact checking reveals that even with the most generous accounting of visitors to the frontier complex, not even 10 percent of that figure could be attributed to Judge Parker’s big rope. Before proceeding to examine the fate of the Marshals Museum, it is instructive to look at the current state of frontier-complex tourism in Fort Smith.

The National Park Service’s reported annual visitor numbers show the National Historic Site at 69,584 for 2013 and a five-year average of 75,062.17 These figures actually represent twice as many people who entered the building and registered at the desk. The National Park Service officially doubles that number for its records, assuming that an equal number of people come to use the grounds but do not go inside to pay the (p.219) nominal admission fee, which is a deterrent to some potential visitors. The Fort Smith Museum of History reported an average of 20,000 visitors for 2012–2013, Miss Laura’s had 12,718 sign its register in 2012, and the Clayton House estimated 6,500 people came through its doors.18 In all likelihood, these attendance numbers do not represent unique visitors, as many tourists visit more than one of these sites. Schools bring busloads of children to these sites each year. Their numbers are counted in the total but obviously do not count as tourists who stay in local hotels, eat in restaurants, or fill up their gas tanks before leaving town.

As such, the overall National Historic Site attendance count would be a generous estimate for adult tourists making an economic impact in Fort Smith as a direct result of cultural heritage tourism. According to the 2013 “National Park Visitor Spending Effects,” national parks brought 2.78 million visitors to Arkansas who spent $144 million. The nonlocal visit count specific to the Fort Smith National Historic Site was 58,451, with an estimated $3.7 million in nonlocal visitor spending.19 While these figures appear large and are definitely better than nothing, they are quite small when compared with economic pressures working against Fort Smith.

A final document prepared by consultant Wallace Roberts and Todd for the Fort Smith Comprehensive Plan detailed that the local economy has a “leakage” of $812.9 million, with $272.9 million of it leaving for “general merchandise” and about $200 million each leaving for “foodservice & drinking places” and “food & beverage (grocery).” There was a retail surplus in “sporting goods, hobby, book, music,” “big materials, garden equipment,” and “electronics & appliance” totaling $278.9 million, resulting in a $533.9 million retail spending deficit.20 The economic picture in Fort Smith would be drastically different if the people who live there would spend their money there. Still, it is hoped that the future Marshals Museum will ease this level of self-inflicted hemorrhaging.

The fact is that the Fort Smith frontier complex is not a huge tourist destination. It is not a Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock or a Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Walmart’s hometown of Bentonville, let alone a Tombstone or a Dodge City that can attract 200,000–400,000 visitors annually. With 87,000 residents, Fort Smith is technically the second-largest city in a state of barely 3 million.

Data from an economic report on 2012 tourism prepared by the Arkansas Department of Travel and Tourism puts tourism in the frontier complex into perspective. With $5 billion spent by travelers in the state (p.220) that year, there is a definite share of tourist money to be sought. The state agency divides Arkansas into twelve tourism regions. Fort Smith, in Sebastian County, is in the Western Arkansas Mountain Frontier Region, which ranked fifth among the twelve regions for tourist expenditures in 2012. While five other counties are in the same region, Sebastian County, home to Fort Smith, took in 80 percent of its tourist revenues.21

In 2012, tourist expenditures totaled nearly $431 million garnered from almost 1.2 million total visitors to this five-county region. For comparison, the Northwest Arkansas Region, which includes Benton, Carroll, Madison, and Washington Counties, generated close to $744 million in tourist expenditures from more than 3.2 million visitors. The Heart of Arkansas Region, which includes Little Rock, led the state with nearly $1.8 billion in expenditures from almost 6.4 million visitors. The other two regions that drew more revenue and tourists than the Fort Smith region were the Diamond Lakes Region, which includes Garland County with Hot Springs and recreational lakes, and the Arkansas Delta Byways Region, which includes all the state’s counties contiguous to the Mississippi River, with the lure of its gambling boats.22

Sebastian County itself is in the top five counties for tourist travel spending, with 6.0 percent of the pie. Garland and Pulaski are ahead of it with 10.4 percent and 28.0 percent, respectively. The contiguous counties of Washington and Benton come in fourth and fifth, but with their combined share of 9.8 percent, Sebastian County comes in last. Thus, Fort Smith is in serious competition with other regions and counties in the state. Perhaps the most pointed evidence that Fort Smith’s frontier complex has not truly made it onto the tourist radar is that Sebastian County is not among the top ten counties listed as final destinations for tourists coming to the state. The piece of the frontier tourist pie becomes even smaller considering that of all the visitors to the state, only 26 percent include historic sites as “activities participated in.”23 Nevertheless, Fort Smith is annually recognized for tourism with awards by the state and by the local tourism industry.

Arkansas has long recognized the significance of the tourism industry to the state’s economy and has held an annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism since 1974. Awards for accomplishments in tourism are given each year and referred to as the Henry Awards. The “Henry” being referenced is Henri de Tonti, an eighteenth-century French explorer who eventually abandoned his plans for making money in the Arkansas River Valley and went back to France.24 In 2014 the Fort Smith Convention and Visitors (p.221) Bureau won the Henry Award for Community Tourism Development specifically for the manner in which it promoted its True West Magazine designation as #1 True Western Town of 2013.25 In April 2013 Fort Smith had two Henry Award nominations. Tokunboh Baridi Nkokheli was nominated in the Outstanding Volunteer Service Award category, and the Bass Reeves monument was up for the Natural State Award. While neither award was taken back to Fort Smith, the city’s brand as a frontier town was reinforced.

Beginning in 2012 Fort Smith heightened its connection to frontier tourism when it began recognizing those who had made outstanding contributions to tourism in the city by taking nominations for and giving GRIT Awards, further entangling True Grit with tourism as “GRIT” stands for “Giving Recognition in Tourism.” In 2014 the Fort Smith National Historic Site won Attraction Partner of the Year, and Floyd and Sue Robison won Hospitality Person of the Year for their portrayal of Isaac and Mary Parker.26 Nominations for the April 2013 GRIT awards in the category of Attraction Partner of the Year included two elements from the Fort Smith frontier complex, the Bass Reeves Legacy Initiative, described at the event as a “classic example of a hospitality dream come true,” and the Fort Smith Museum of History, which was framed as “Fort Smith’s own version of the Smithsonian.”27

Two couples who contributed to performing frontier tourism in Fort Smith were nominated for the Polly Crews Hospitality Person of the Year award. Baridi and then wife Tonya Nkokheli, who served on the Bass Reeves Legacy Initiative board, were jointly nominated, as were Floyd and Sue Robison. The museum and the Nkokhelis won their respective awards in 2013.28 In 2012 the Clayton House won over the nominations of the Bass Reeves Legacy Initiative, the Fort Smith Museum of History, and the Fort Smith National Historic Site.29 The frontier complex is thus inextricably bound to the tourism industry in Fort Smith, or more correctly, we can now see it is the other way around—cultural heritage tourism is entangled in the frontier complex.

The 2013 GRIT Award for Business Partner of the Year was awarded to downtown owner-developers Richard Griffin and his son, Rick Griffin. Accepting the award, Rick Griffin addressed the audience and earnestly advised, “I want you to all take a moment and look forward to the U.S. Marshals Museum, which is coming. Richard and I are personally working to help raise money for that project. When it does come, it is a game (p.222) changer for downtown Fort Smith and for the region at large.”30 Under the grandiloquent fanfare surrounding the Marshals Museum, we can see the machinations of the local political economy at work, just as we did with the ploys of Fort Smith’s founder, John Rogers, to have the second Fort Smith built in 1838 or as with R. K. Rodgers and the Chamber of Commerce in dismantling Coke Hill in the name of frontier tourism. Together, Rick and Richard Griffin own a substantial amount of real estate downtown and have renovated several buildings on Garrison Avenue to “historic” condition.31

Besides raising money for the Marshals Museum, between the two of them the Griffins sit on enough boards in town to create an interlocking directorate within their family that can directly influence development in the city. Richard Griffin is the current chairman of the Fort Smith Historic Downtown Preservation Association, the Central Business Improvement District Commission, and the Fort Smith Housing Authority. His son, Rick Griffin, serves on the board of the Marshals Museum. On the same day they won their GRIT Award, the local newspaper reported that the Central Business Improvement District Commission headed by Richard Griffin gave Rick Griffin of Griffin Properties permission to go ahead with plans to spend $3 million renovating the 400 block of Garrison Avenue. Rick Griffin “said the restoration will be done with attention to historic preservation, and efforts are being made to secure state and federal tax credits. He said the effort at preservation ‘is the right thing to do for downtown,’ given the city’s goal of emphasizing its frontier heritage, a goal that is expected to intensify in the area as the U.S. Marshals Museum is developed on the Arkansas River front.” Using the Marshals Museum as the basis for their business venture, he emphasized, “We want to start the ball rolling on that.”32

The Griffin family is well positioned to see a profit from potential tourists they are making key decisions in attracting. Meanwhile, they are clearing the way to maximize their investment. As is not uncommon in cities’ downtown areas, agencies that assist individuals experiencing homelessness are close to it; three are near the region that the Griffins plan to develop, and homeless camps dot the riverfront near the proposed location of the U.S. Marshals Museum.33 At the time of this writing, Richard Griffin, the real estate developer, in his capacity as board president of the Fort Smith Housing Authority, was the boss of Ken Pyle, that agency’s executive director. Pyle, in turn, was board president of the Old Fort Homeless (p.223) Coalition, which had been tasked with relocating all the agencies that work with homeless individuals, along with all the homeless camps along the river, to a centralized homeless campus.

The city Board of Directors has clearly defined the only location homeless agencies can expand as several blocks south of Garrison Avenue in a largely abandoned industrial park, away from Griffin properties and far from the gaze of frontier tourists.34 Pyle argues in a Times Record opinion piece, “Economic common sense should tell us that downtown and riverfront development will not happen unless and until existing homeless services are consolidated to a ‘social service campus’ in the chosen area south of Garrison Avenue.”35 Homelessness thus becomes the scapegoat for the failure of downtown tourism and perhaps the Marshals Museum. Clearly, Fort Smith has pushed all its chips in on attracting tourists to its frontier complex and doubling down on its wager with the Marshals Museum, and it is willing to further marginalize individuals experiencing homelessness and the nonprofit agencies that assist them in the process.

Following Richard Flores’ lead in his dismantling of the master symbol in Remembering the Alamo, I have striven to do the same here with the frontier complex in general, its iteration in Fort Smith in particular, and now with its wager with the Marshals Museum in particular. Flores argues, “A semiotics of place serves to anchor meaning in a foundational and thereby mythical past; a semiotics of project binds social actors in the present with a sense of historical subjectivity and attempts to silence the stories of those whose presence may unravel the tightly wound strands of meaning in the master symbol.”36 Regarding the emerging master symbol of the Marshals Museum in Fort Smith, more than a few stories that have not been heard do indeed unravel some key strands holding it together.

Fort Smith’s Marshals Museum

It was in July 2003 that talk began to circulate in Fort Smith about putting in a bid for the U.S. Marshals Museum. Arkansas Congressman John Boozman initiated a meeting with Marshals Service Director Benigno Reyna “about placing the museum with the Fort Smith National Historic Site where U.S. District Judge Isaac Parker held court during the frontier days.” Very little was said at the time regarding the Marshals Museum stint in Laramie, Wyoming, only that it had been there since 1991 and closed in 2002 “when the Marshals Service pulled its exhibits because they were not properly maintained and the security wasn’t sufficient.”37 Sweeping imagery (p.224) from the mythic frontier complex was used to present the public face of the transition of the Marshals Museum from Laramie to Fort Smith.

Local news media covered the story in hopeful terms from the start. A Times Record reporter notes, “Fort Smith officials are angling to lure the U.S. Marshals Museum to the city, saying the law-and-order legacy of Judge Isaac Parker makes it a natural candidate.”38 Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor jumped on the bandwagon, suggesting the museum could be located in the vacant Frisco Station that had recently been renovated and is immediately adjacent to the Fort Smith National Historic Site.39 Within three months of the newspaper’s first article on the potential move, a Times Record editorial declared Fort Smith a “natural site” for a Marshals Museum.40 What happened next is an important juncture in the chronology of the Marshals Museum.

What becomes manifestly obvious at this point is that the project becomes framed as an economic engine for the region. The public discourse about the museum is not primarily about having a facility to pay tribute to U.S. marshals and deputy marshals who have fallen in the line of duty, nor is it about recognizing the more than 225-year history of the U.S. Marshals Service upholding U.S. law. Rather, it is about bringing tourists to town; it is about revitalizing the local economy; it is about syphoning tourists away from their flow to Crystal Bridges and the Clinton Library.

The Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Bureau was quick to add enthusiasm to the project and escalate the expectations of what it could mean to the city. According to the Times Record, Executive Director Claude Legris said in 2004, “It would be a natural extension of Fort Smith’s frontier history, and it would bring another major attraction to draw out-of-town tourism dollars to the area.”41 The proverbial chickens were being counted long before the roost was built, let alone any eggs laid.

The Times Record fueled the enthusiasm with more editorial titles including “Fort Smith a ‘Natural’ Museum Location” and more boldly, “City Deserves U.S. Marshal Museum.” In the latter, a 2004 editorial, the writer confidently states that Fort Smith is “the ‘natural’ and best possible location for the U.S. Marshal Museum” and specifies the old depot as the logical site for it: “Fort Smith and Arkansas tourism promoters have all the right things to say about why the museum collection … should be moved to the old Frisco Depot at the foot of the bridge at Second Street and Garrison Avenue.”42 We will return to the point of the museum location (p.225) momentarily; for now what is important to note is the widespread optimistic enthusiasm for the project.

The Fort Smith Advertising and Promotion Commission immediately began work on a promotional video to make its case for landing the museum in which all manner of mythic frontier justice was put on display. Scenes from John Wayne’s portrayal of Rooster Cogburn in True Grit were interspersed with pictures of real-life deputies as then Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee delivers the pitch:

The proud histories of America’s oldest federal law enforcement agency, the frontier border town of Fort Smith, and the state of Arkansas are intertwined with romantic and adventuresome tales of lawbreakers and peacemakers. Fort Smith and Indian Territory were the setting for John Wayne’s fictional portrayal of a deputy U.S. marshal in the movie True Grit; Rooster Cogburn always got his man, as did those who rode for Judge Isaac C. Parker. More than one hundred deputy marshals died in the line of duty between 1871 and 1896—a majority of whom are buried within fifty miles of Fort Smith.43

A local history enthusiast adds to the promotional video’s mythic depictions: “Starting in 1871, Fort Smith was the granddaddy of all Marshal Services. There was [sic] more marshals here, spread over a larger part of the country; more people brought in; more marshals killed in the line of duty.” This description of rugged characters is then reinforced by both the narrator and the images displayed on the screen.

The narrator says, “And in Fort Smith, Arkansas, the gallant men and women who brought law and order to the old west helped change the landscape of our great nation.” With no context, explanation, identification, or sense of irony, the 1892 photo of the deceased Cherokee Senator Ned Christie tied to a door, propped up on the courthouse steps, and surrounded by the posse that had killed him is displayed on the screen as that line is spoken. The image reinforces stereotypical Hollywood depictions of binary cases of good and evil while glossing a case hotly contested between Fort Smith and the Cherokee Nation. The desired effect is that it will quickly attract the popular imagination of the viewer; it is not meant to explain the complex and nuanced history of the advancing nation displacing Native Americans, let alone the complex case and tragic death of Ned Christie.

(p.226) The video was ready by the time officials from Washington, D.C., made their first visit to Fort Smith. The assistant director of the Marshals Service, Michael Pearson, and Marshals Service historian David Turk arrived for a four-day visit in November 2005. The Times Record declared, “It’s show time!” By the time the officials departed they had toured potential sites for the museum, and within two weeks it was being reported that Fort Smith was on the short list of cities under consideration.44 In 2006 the “Bring It Home” campaign was developed to actively create local community support for the project. That was its objective, as stated in a Times Record editorial: “The purpose of this campaign is to capture the enthusiasm of Fort Smith residents.”45

In June 2006 two dozen community leaders traveled to Washington to sell that captured Fort Smith enthusiasm to the Marshals Service. There to assist them were state Senator Blanche Lincoln and Congressman John Boozman. Lincoln emphasized, “This is a community that engages itself and embraces its ideas and stops at nothing to put on an A-plus show.” Boozman said, “Truly, I think Fort Smith makes all the sense in the world. The good thing is, I think they are buying it, but you just don’t know until they decide.”46 The community support and political reinforcement seem to have been effective. On July 25, 2006, it was announced that Fort Smith was a finalist, competing with Staunton, Virginia.47

It was the image of the frontier and not the role of the Marshals Service that was emphasized by both applicants. The competitor’s position was reported in the Times Record: “The frontier starts in Staunton, or so say the locals. Eighteenth-century settlers plodded westward through the Shenandoah Valley through Staunton, seat of a county that at one time stretched west to the Mississippi River and north to the Great Lakes.”48 The decision came down to which city could find greatest purchase in the frontier complex.

Fort Smithians made their final pitch in November 2006. Nine members of the Marshals Service site selection committee spent several days in the city gathering their final impressions. They were “given a special Murder and Mayhem Trolley tour” during which outlaws held up the trolley and the visitors were saved by deputy marshals. At another event, “more than 900 area residents showed their support for making Fort Smith the home of the National U.S. Marshals Museum.” The visitors from Washington “were serenaded by members of the Southside High School Rebel Band playing the theme song from the 1960 western, The Magnificent Seven.”49

(p.227) The final plea was made in Judge Parker’s reconstructed courtroom after the panel observed a night court reenactment of a Parker trial. In a brilliant move, Claude Legris pulled a reverse Johnny Cochran. Speaking before the panel seated in the courtroom, Legris introduced the acronym “FRESH … standing for Free-standing, Relevant to visitors today and in the future, Education, Self-sustaining and Historically inclusive—holding up another finger with each point. With all five fingers out, Legris then pulled out a black leather glove and said ‘If you see a fit, then Fort Smith is it.’”50 The good, the bad, and the ugly of Hollywood imagery and mythic frontier justice were the underlying script to the entire campaign, and it worked.

Three full years of lobbying resulted in the museum being awarded to Fort Smith in January 2007. Staunton came in second place; two earlier contenders—Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Hollywood, California—had been eliminated in the initial round. The announcement was trumpeted with much fanfare. Local, state, and national dignitaries praised Fort Smith as the best place for the museum, and optimism was running high: “Fundraising for a building expected to cost about $15 million and operation expenses of about $5 million will start immediately,” the city administrator declared. While it was suggested by some that it might “take up to six years before the museum opens,” others were confident that “money will be available and the site ready much sooner.”51 Richard O’Connell, U.S. marshal for the Western District of Arkansas, offered an optimistic time line: “We’re hoping to turn the locks in 36 to 40 months.”52 In retrospect, these early projections of three or six years were nothing short of fanciful.

More encouragement was heaped on as many public figures held out promises of substantial monetary support. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and Congressman John Boozman were joined by state Representatives Tracy Pennartz and Jim Medley in creating high expectations that the Marshals Museum would receive taxpayer monies. In the heady days following the announcement, figures of $10 million and $25 million of support were bravely proffered and bantered about with splashing headlines of potential federal funding and a state “surplus trough.”53 Such bold talk trebled museum fever.

Local business leaders including Bennie Westphal and Richard Griffin and their families were quick to throw in their support. The two families combined own a substantial portion of available real estate in downtown Fort Smith and thus had considerable profits to potentially reap, depending (p.228) on where the museum landed. The Westphal family offered to donate two properties for the museum even before it had been awarded to the city. But support was strong for the vacant Frisco Station next to the Fort Smith National Historic Site, whose presence was a deciding factor for the committee awarding the museum. Partnering the Marshals Museum with existing tourist sites that would complement it was cited as an important variable in deciding the recipient city.54

In September 2007 the museum board voted nine for and three against placing the museum north of Garrison Avenue on the riverfront, away from Frisco Station and a short but inconvenient mile away from the National Historic Site. This decision moved the future museum farther from existing tourist sites and adjacent to property owned by the Griffins and the Westphals, and the museum would require new construction at the site. At this time Bennie Westphal was a voting member on the museum board and a member of the site selection committee that unanimously recommended to the board the location nearer existing tourist sites. An informal vote at the start of the meeting showed a six-to-six split on the measure. After discussion, only Jim Spears, Claude Legris, and Mike Blevins voted against moving to the entirely new site.55

The Times Record has been an active voice in building hopes and expectations of what the Marshals Museum might bring. Each step of the process has been trumpeted with optimistic headlines. One such article in May 2005, “Heritage Tourism Grows,” connected the bid for the Marshals Museum to the local university’s brand-new historical interpretation degree, which hypothetically would serve as a feeder of interns and future employees to the Marshals Museum and other historic sites in town.56 The fate of that degree program is one indicator in a list of many that the hopes and dreams embodied by a few enthusiastic supporters and expressed in headlines veil the struggle for the Marshals Museum to become a reality in Fort Smith. The historical interpretation degree was discontinued within a few short years after it began.

The big-dollar support for the museum never materialized. A year after holding out hope for $25 million, Governor Mike Beebe delivered a $2 million check toward the museum fund as seed money. The City of Fort Smith eventually kicked in $100,000, and a few high-profile donations brought the total figure to about $3 million.57 Barely more than two years into the venture, in April 2009 the price tag for the museum ballooned from an initial estimate of $15 million to $50 million as architectural plans were (p.229) introduced for a badge-shaped building jutting over the banks of the Arkansas River; the design is said to be based on the scene at the end of High Noon when Gary Cooper takes his badge off and drops it in the dirt. Sandi Sanders, the museum project director at the time, said the estimated $50 million was a fund-raising goal, with $22 million of it going for construction, $15 million for exhibits, and $5 million in an endowment.58

In 2013 it was reported that the behemoth Walton Family Foundation was donating a slim $2 million toward the effort, though that is not reflected in the foundation’s 2013 annual report.59 The Marshals Museum financial reports claim to have raised $14 million as of June 2014, but this does not account for expenses of operating the endeavor for the previous seven years. Subtracting operating expenses and outside fees, including architectural designs, exhibit design consultants, and marketing firms, the figure of cash on hand is closer to $5 million.60

Between 2008 and 2012 reality set in that the Marshals Museum board would have the hard work of raising most of the $50 million without assistance from taxpayers.61 A separate Marshals Museum Foundation was created to keep fund-raising and operating procedures distinct, and gestures were made to try to bring more nationally recognized names such as former Governor Huckabee into the project. New Market Tax Credits began to be discussed as a way to secure $10 million to $15 million, and the U.S. Mint “Marshals coin” created hope for acquiring another $5 million. While there was much talk of these initiatives, the bottom line did not fluctuate.

Despite a lackluster response, or perhaps because of it, the Marshals Museum held a dedication of the museum’s cornerstone on November 9, 2013. This was done well in advance of the September 2014 groundbreaking for the facility and, curiously, in a different location than the planned site for the museum along the Arkansas River. A few months prior to the cornerstone dedication ceremony, the Marshals Museum board announced it would be locating the museum about a quarter-mile from its initial chosen location on the riverfront to better accommodate space to park the cars of the estimated 165,000 tourists each year. The assessment of parking needs was based on comparisons to accommodations at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville and the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, which both attract well over 200,000 visitors per year.62

The cornerstone dedication was attended by many high-ranking political officials, current and retired marshals, and community leaders. Headlining the event were Edwin Meese, attorney general during the Reagan (p.230) administration; Howard Safir, one-time associate director of the U.S. Marshals Service and former New York City Police commissioner; and Stacia Hylton, current Marshals Service director. Rhetoric at the event reinforced the mythic imagination of frontier justice and inscribed it upon the contemporary landscape. During her speech, Hylton wistfully conceded that though she might be a Washington bureaucrat, she sometimes daydreamed of working on the frontier, arresting fugitives and returning them to Fort Smith to be tried in Judge Parker’s courtroom. To punctuated applause, she declared, “So for us to be here in Fort Smith, a part of our dreams throughout our life and of growing up in law enforcement and the Marshals Service, I’m here to tell you that for a marshal standing here, for me standing here, to all of us, Fort Smith is like sacred ground.”63 The mythic frontier is still a warm refuge from Max Weber’s icy iron-cage of bureaucracy.

Attorney General Meese delivered a much more direct conflation of fact and fiction to the crowd. The Times Record reported on Meese’s remarks that “the history of the marshals parallels the history of the U.S. The exploits of the marshals, including well-known marshals Wyatt Earp and ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok, have served as the inspiration for many films and TV shows. ‘Where would John Wayne have been without the material provided by the marshals?’ Meese told the audience.” The “sacred ground” comment by Hylton was reinforced by local news reporting and by museum president and CEO Jim Dunn. The City Wire reported that Dunn linked the future Marshals Museum to larger national memorials in stating that it “has the potential to become one of America’s most sacred sites, much like the Vietnam War Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial in New York.”64 Such grand metonymic connections were also made on September 11, 2012, when the Marshals Museum unveiled a piece of steel I-beam recovered from the World Trade Centers that is to be put on display once the museum opens.65

The effort to create an effective sentimental connection between these national traumas is a marketing strategy the Marshals Museum promoters have used in other efforts. Rudy Giuliani is the featured speaker in the Marshals Museum’s video “Your Marshal: Yesterday’s Legends—Tomorrow’s Heroes.” The former New York mayor contributes to the sacralizing of the Fort Smith landscape:

Well, if you know the history of the U.S. Marshals Service because of the spreading to the west and everything else that happened, that’s (p.231) probably the place where more U.S. Marshals have given their lives, sacrificed their lives, than any place in the country. So, I think it’s a place that has a great deal of the very glorious history of the U.S. Marshals Service kind of built into it.66

Each line is delivered in Giuliani’s trademark confident fashion.

Throughout the video, Giuliani reinforces the righteousness of federal law enforcement in relation to an expanding country:

I mean it goes back to our days as a frontier country that was expanding. Towns that were lawless became towns ultimately that had some form of rule of law, then a really good rule of law. None of that would have been possible without the United States Marshals.

He then connects national history to the museum:

I think more people can learn about what the Marshals Service has done, and it can be a great study in the expression of the rule of law, a great study in how to take an organization and organize it correctly and give it the right kind of spirit.

While Giuliani’s emphasis on the rule of law does not square with Rooster Cogburn–style marshaling, let alone that of a Bass Reeves or a Logan H. Roots, it does function to legitimate the power of the political state. Images and footage from September 11 interspersed throughout the video tap into the emotional trauma of that event while eliding more complex and nuanced perspectives of both September 11 and the frontier border in Fort Smith. It remains to be seen if such attempts at connecting the emotional memorialization of these traumatic events will result in financial support. The YouTube video was viewed just over four thousand times in three years.67

Offline, two other revenue sources for the Marshals Museum look troubled. Hypothetical figures of $10 million to $15 million in New Market Tax Credits and up to $5 million from marketing a U.S. Mint Marshals commemorative coin inflate the success of fund-raising efforts. Adhering to even the most exaggerated figures, $25 million to $30 million from these sources would be available toward a goal of $50 million. In reality, the Marshals Museum directors quietly announced at the June 2014 board meeting that the campaign failed to secure any New Market Tax Credits for that cycle, and while local newspapers routinely cite the $5 million from the (p.232) Marshals coin minted in 2015, that money must be earned by the Marshals Museum aggressively marketing it. Initial sales of commemorative coins have not been dependable, and even more problematic for opening the museum, it is stipulated that the revenues from the coin may not be used for construction.68

Besides sluggish monetary support for the Marshals Museum, the misspelling of Governor Mike Beebe’s name as “Bebee” on the cornerstone is symptomatic of a series of foibles associated with the overall effort. On two occasions, Marshals Museum directors have had to backtrack on announcements that it had secured firearms associated with famous frontier figures. In one case, Marshals Service historian David Turk donated a gun he considered to have been used by the outlaw Frank James, a claim quickly disputed by the James estate. A few years later, board member and local real estate developer Rick Griffin assisted in securing a gun believed to once be held by George Maledon, the so-called Prince of Hangmen who worked as a deputy for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas during Judge Parker’s era. In this case, the receipt linking the rifle to Maledon turned out to be a forgery.69 In June 2014 the Marshals Museum board revealed that the U.S. Corps of Engineers has an easement on the chosen building site beside the lock-and-dam-regulated Arkansas River. Though a threat to the planned museum’s location, board members were calm and confident that the restriction would be changed, only conceding that it might “take some time.”70

The easement issue had not been addressed by September 24, 2014, when a formal groundbreaking ceremony was held for the museum. The crowd of more than six hundred people included state representatives and congressmen, Governor Beebe, and nearly a hundred retired deputy U.S. marshals. The director of the museum board addressed the audience:

Today’s ceremony indicates how far we’ve come and marks the first phase of the museum’s construction. In preparation for the beginning of the project we discovered an unrecorded easement, the Corp of Engineers has [long pause], and we’re working on that, we’re working with the Corp of Engineers, and a lot of people are working on our behalf to resolve that issue, and it will be resolved [long pause]. But, uh, you know, we’ve always said that we can only develop this museum, build this museum, as the money becomes available, but we’re at a milestone. We raised some money. And I hope you saw the (p.233) announcement last week of the $5 million anonymous gift we got—that’s wonderful. That is wonderful, what a [applause]. We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re confident in the not too distant future the U. S. Marshals Museum will stand right here on this spot.71

Six months later it was reported that the Army Corps of Engineers would not give up the 100-yard-deep easement on the property. Further, “The easement location may change where the museum is built or if it can be built there at all, but the museum’s directors said they don’t know what it means for the future of the project because they weren’t aware of the Corps of Engineers had been out there in the first place.”72

No amount of goodwill and enthusiasm can totally compensate for being in over one’s head. Creating a national museum from scratch requires a great deal of expertise. While several firms have been contracted by the Marshals Museum, the project has been led by people who have no experience in museums. Sandi Sanders was appointed as the first Marshals Museum project director in April 2007, shortly after she was not offered the position of chancellor at the University of Arkansas–Fort Smith, where she had worked in administration for several years. With a background in education, she did not bring any direct museum experience to the effort. Jim Dunn, after thirty-six years as an attorney with the local law firm Warner, Smith, and Harris, replaced Sanders in June 2009. Within two years, Warner, Smith, and Harris, a firm that had been around since 1887, closed up shop.73 In order to succeed at such undertakings, a researcher on the Set in Stone study asserts, it is necessary to recruit strong and knowledgeable leadership, not simply fill the slot with a local person looking for a lateral move.74

Laramie’s Marshals Museum

This hit-and-miss pattern of Fort Smith’s Marshals Museum effort has played out in two earlier failed attempts of cities to secure the elusive Marshals Museum. In 1988 Oklahoma City was off to a good start for landing the museum; by 1990 it had failed miserably due to alleged corruption within the Marshals Service and the Marshals Memorial Foundation. By 1991 the Marshals Museum was heading to Laramie, where it would spend a decade embedded within what was then called the Wyoming Territorial Prison and Old West Park, locally often called the Wyoming Territorial Park. By 2001 that joint venture had failed. Next we will look more closely (p.234) at what happened in Laramie and then turn our attention to the Oklahoma City attempt.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in late July 1990 that three cities were competing to be the permanent home of America’s Star, the Smithsonian-created traveling exhibit featuring the legacy of the U.S. Marshals Service. The article reports that more than 400,000 people saw the exhibit in the two months it was temporarily displayed adjacent to that city’s iconic Gateway Arch. U.S. Marshals Foundation member Herbert Bryant said that “the St. Louis area’s central location would make it an excellent spot for the exhibit base.”75 Despite the success and accolades it received in St. Louis, the exhibit was on its way to Laramie a year later.

The arrival of the U.S. Marshals Service America’s Star exhibit at the Wyoming Territorial Park was met with a ceremony to mark its official conveyance in August 1991. This new and intended permanent home for the exhibit was within “an historic theme park centered around the Wyoming Territorial Prison,” which famously once held the outlaw Butch Cassidy. The exhibit was said to have been on tour for two and a half years and visited by more than 1.2 million people. Displays had titles such as “Lawmen for the Territory,” “Lawmen and the Courts,” “The Gunmen: Romance and Reality,” and “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” and artifacts including Al Capone’s St. Valentine’s Day Massacre machine gun, Wyatt Earp’s shotgun, Jesse James’ pistol, and warrants for other infamous criminals.76 Promotional material for the Smithsonian-created traveling exhibit immediately began calling America’s Star the National U.S. Marshals Museum.

Brochures listed key events interpreted in the exhibit, among them the Whiskey Rebellion, 1807 African Slave Trade Act, taming the frontier, Prohibition, desegregation, Wounded Knee, Anti-Hijacking and Counter-Terrorist Program, and drug enforcement.77 Documents from its 1991 arrival in Laramie reflect a strong feeling on the part of Wyoming Territorial Park constituents that the Marshals Service had found the permanent home for its museum. It was billed “Where justice tamed the west.” A letter to U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop explains that “the Wyoming Territorial Park is modeled after the three well-known, east coast attractions—Old Sturbridge Village, Colonial Williamsburg and Plimoth Plantation. The Park is the creation of a legacy—a legacy linking us to the past and allowing our guests to learn about Wyoming’s unique contribution to the development of the American spirit.”78 Promoters of this new union between Laramie (p.235) and the Marshals Service were confident that it was a perfect marriage that would produce significant tourist numbers.

Newspaper articles from the time reinforce this perspective. In one, U.S. Marshals Foundation president Herbert Bryant, conveniently forgetting he had recently declared St. Louis an ideal location for the museum, now said, “It would have been inappropriate somewhere else…. It would have been out of place on Park Avenue in New York. You might get more visitors on Park Avenue, but it’s not what they expect to see there.” The manager of the Wyoming Territorial Park, Craig Post, agreed with him: “There is a certain integrity and a certain reputation the U.S. Marshals Service has and I think they were looking for a place where it would fit and give it all the surroundings necessary.”79 Just as some tourists might travel to Branson expecting to see hillbillies or in Hawaii a hula dancer, tourists going to a U.S. Marshals exhibit no doubt expect to see the mythically imagined setting of the nineteenth-century Wild West lawman.80

Laramie museum supporters expressed faith in having the right fit, a belief that tourists would pull off Interstate 80 to visit the site, and an expectation that the Marshals Foundation would keep the exhibit fresh with new artifacts and the collection rotating to keep those tourists coming back. The city of Laramie and the state of Wyoming put money and trust behind this effort. As early as 1987, more than $5 million was raised to restore the old territorial prison. The city of Laramie voted for sales-tax increases on two separate occasions, and the state of Wyoming made a $10 million loan for improving the land around the Wyoming Territorial Park.81

Four years later, in 1995, the enthusiastic folks in Laramie were still working on lining out a “vision plan” for constructing a stand-alone U.S. Marshals Museum within the Wyoming Territorial Park. Details included plans for a 25,000-square-foot building costing $5 million and another $7 million for “acquisition, preservation and maintenance of displays as well as the establishment of an operating endowment for the United States Marshals Museum.”82 The record from this plan reveals a great deal of discussion on how to gain active buy-in from a wider national audience and on which consultants and attorneys to hire at what point in the process: a cost consultant, a capital campaign firm, and a construction lawyer. Other sites used for comparison by the Marshals Museum were the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the Fort Lauderdale Art Museum, which was $9 million in debt at the time.

(p.236) Several different tactics for fund-raising were discussed. One strategy, which has also been deployed in Fort Smith as Descendants Day, was the inception of an annual Marshals Day. In 1997 Laramie held its fifth such annual occasion. These events are used to form relations with potential donors, to gather stories related to the Marshals Service, and to attract donations of artifacts. Minutes from two separate meetings of the National U.S. Marshals Museum trustees reveal other fund-raising ventures as well as impending fissures in the Marshals Service relation to Laramie.

Live auctions, dinner-theater auctions, sales of prints of western-themed paintings, and the sale of raffle tickets for a Colt pistol had accrued a paltry balance-sheet total of less than $12,000 at the end of 1998.83 Evidently there had been no takers for the 42-inch version of David Manuel’s Frontier Marshal sculpture, which was available for $17,500. Manuel had been declared the “official sculptor for the United States Marshals Bicentennial.” His 10-foot-tall version of the statue was unveiled at the 1989 Marshals Memorial in Oklahoma City.84

The minutes of the July 19, 1998, trustees meeting report a veiled comment about previous Marshals Museum blunders and a more direct comment about the growing disconnect between Laramie and Washington, D.C. In reference to the failed Marshals Museum attempt in Oklahoma City, an idea to develop a Friends of the U.S. Marshals Museum organization was rejected: “There is still some bitterness about a previous donation program that raised a large amount and the funds disappeared.” Turning their attention to the America’s Star exhibit, the trustees posed questions about what U.S. Marshals Service historian Ted Calhoun was doing to assist with maintaining the exhibit: “Can we negotiate with Ted Calhoun to handle all donations and to rotate displays; new exhibits each season? We need someone to ensure authenticity, etc. It was agreed that is [sic] was important to keep Ted and the U.S. Marshals Service involved.” Discussion followed about a new exhibit on display at the U.S. Marshals headquarters that was not open to the public. The question arose as to whether the exhibit in Laramie should be declared a “satellite” museum. In the end, “All agreed that we needed more communication with the U.S. Marshals Service.”85

By fall 2000 the imminent collapse of the Wyoming Territorial Park, and thus the U.S. Marshals Museum, was in public view. The Sheridan Press headline flashed, “Laramie Park Still in Midst of Financial Problems May Close.” In response, the park’s officials went all-in on the wager on (p.237) frontier tourism. With only one year of operating monies remaining, they hired a marketing firm and had bright-colored billboards plastered along Interstates 80 and 25. Park Director Pam Malone said, “The way we looked at it was we could die of cancer or we could die of a heart attack.”86 Once hidden from public view, relations between the Wyoming Territorial Park and the Marshals Service were about to take a turn for the worse.

Jennifer Goodman, executive director of the Wyoming Territorial Park, addressed several concerns and rumors in a certified letter to Marshals Service Director Benigno G. Reyna on August 21, 2002. Chief among Goodman’s concerns was the speculation that the Marshals Service was not going to keep the Marshals Museum in Laramie. She assured Reyna that the Wyoming Territorial Park would not be closing its doors and that its staff would accommodate any concerns regarding care of the America’s Star exhibit. While Goodman conceded that the “USMS Museum deserved more attention and needs a dedicated effort to improve visibility, accessibility, and resources,” she also was quite put out with the lack of communication from the Marshals Service: “Because no line of official communication exist [sic] between the WTPC and the USMS we have been left to speculate as to the issues that might have arisen concerning the care of the exhibit.”87 Clearly, this break had been quietly building for some time.

One week later the Wyoming Territorial Park was put on notice that the U.S. Marshals Service would be coming to Laramie in a matter of days to pack up the exhibit. In response, a lawyer for the Wyoming Territorial Park was directed to notify the Department of Justice that “the Park is asserting a lien over the artifacts in the amount of $55,000. This lien is asserted pursuant to Wyoming Statutes Section 29-7-102, et. seq. Under the terms of the statutes, the artifacts will not be released to the USMS until this lien has been satisfied.” The September 4, 2002, letter notes that the “cooperative spirit” between the two agencies “has obviously ended.”88

Two days later the Laramie Boomerang ran an article about the park’s pending removal of the exhibit.89 Park Director Goodman took the gloves off and pulled no punches in a flurry of cutting comments: “We’ve not gotten any new artifact for the last 10 years”; “We’ve tried to go out and support (the museum) without any assistance at all”; “People generally have a higher expectation of what the exhibit will be and are disappointed when they leave”; “They’ve had that (renewal request) on their desk since May and we have had no response from them”; “It sprang on us with no prior warning. I thought it was quite unprofessional.” Notably, the term “Marshals (p.238) Museum” was never used in the article; it was quickly downgraded to only an “exhibit.”

The departure of the America’s Star exhibit was met with much concern about the money that had been put into the Wyoming Territorial Park, the impact the exhibit would have on tourism, and the dispirited contributors to the Marshals Museum cause. Museum trustee Jack Smith countered a month later, “The (exhibit) is being closed by people who have never been to the park, and know nothing about it. (They) don’t care that we have a wall of honor where retired U.S. marshals paid $1,000 for a brick with their name on it.”90 A few of those contributors would get their money back, but it is doubtful that their confidence in such endeavors was left intact.91

For its part, the Marshals Service responded with a lawsuit of its own blocking the lien on the artifacts and putting the blame on the Wyoming Territorial Park. From the Marshals Service perspective, it had loaned the exhibit for years and not been compensated. Further, “the park did not make any efforts to return the Marshals Service artifacts; rather, the park continued to display them at the park and continued to use and publicize them to promote and/or benefit the park up to and through the end of this year’s season on Sept. 30, 2002, and, in fact, beyond.”92

Ultimately the lawsuits ended up in the Casper, Wyoming, circuit court, where it was reported that the judge in the case “told both parties … to stop bickering and ‘act like adults.’” Goodman backed off her strong position, saying, “The park had threatened to auction the items in a desperate attempt to have problems resolved, but had no intention of carrying out the threat.”93 Eventually the Marshals Service did come and pack up America’s Star and reportedly kept it in storage in Wyoming until it was shipped to Fort Smith in November 2007.94 The Wyoming Territorial Park closed but was quickly reopened in 2004 as part of the Wyoming State Park system.95 In Fort Smith, little is spoken in public or newspapers regarding the Laramie era of the Marshals Museum. At most, it is said that the Laramie site was having financial problems or was in a bad location and only had 40,000 visitors a year.96 If people in Fort Smith know that the situation was far more complex, they have not publicly shared it.

Oklahoma City’s Marshals Museum

Approaching the 1989 bicentennial of the creation of the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Marshals Foundation was established in 1986 with a (p.239) stated goal to “promote public understanding of the role and evolution of law and enforcement in America.”97 Stanley E. Morris, director of the U.S. Marshals Service, announced in May 1988 that after an eighteen-month search, Oklahoma City had been selected for a $6.5 million project to build the U.S. Marshals National Memorial and a 25,000-square-foot interpretive center that would include a museum on a 7.2-acre site. A host of accolades accompanied the announcement. Oklahoma Governor Henry Bellmon bragged, “There is not a more appropriate place in the country for this memorial than in Oklahoma next to the Cowboy Hall of Fame.” The article concluded by saying, “Site selection for the memorial was based on [a] historical relationship to the U.S. marshals, demonstrated local support for the project and potential visitorship.”98 Oklahoma City was the ideal place for this project.

The scope of the project grew nearly immediately from simply a memorial to including a museum as the Marshals Foundation’s optimism ran high. Aram Mardirosian, credited with designing the Museum of Westward Expansion beneath the St. Louis Arch, was employed to design the memorial. The mood of the moment was articulated in a September 1988 news article: “Everybody seems to agree the site is perfect.” Phase 2 of the project would entail an interpretive center, a museum building, a library, an auditorium, archives, and a gift shop. An estimated 300,000 annual visitors were expected.99

In March 1989 the America’s Star traveling exhibit visited Oklahoma City and was on display at the Cowboy Hall of Fame. This coincided with another significant centennial—that of the Oklahoma land run: the “exhibit’s sponsors say it is appropriate for the display to come to Oklahoma City during April because a U.S. marshal fired the shot opening the Unassigned Lands to settlers in April 1889.” Director Morris offered a further connection of the marshals to land acquisition in Oklahoma Territory: “The first Sooners were deputies. They used their badge to get across the line before the land run and picked up some nice pieces of property.”100

The collective faith in the marshals memorial was high, but the project reached its zenith on November 8, 1989, and would fall to the ground just as quickly as it had risen. The dedication of the U.S. Marshals National Memorial on November 9, 1989, marked the completion of Phase 1. Dignitaries from Oklahoma and Washington, D.C., were on hand to participate and witness the unveiling of the 10-foot Frontier Marshal statue designed by Dave Manuel. Members of the Marshals Foundation board of directors (p.240) included such prominent names as James Arness, Gene Autry, James Q. Wilson, and Winthrop Rockefeller. At the dedication Governor Bellmon proclaimed, “It seems only right that the U.S. Marshals National Memorial be formed from the red earth that has been stained by the blood of so many U.S. marshals. U.S. marshals paid a very high price for the taming of our state while it was a territory.”101

The marshals were eulogized by the U.S. Marshals Foundation board chairman, G. T. Blankenship, in his closing remarks for the dedication as he reflected, “As I gaze across the sea of faces within the 190 foot replica of the five-pointed star, I can’t help but believe there are more than 400 marshals who are here in spirit whose badges never shined brighter than they do today.”102 Within a year, visions of the memorial to those bright, shining badges were snuffed out with the bankruptcy of the U.S. Marshals Foundation and the selection of Laramie to become the permanent home of the America’s Star exhibit and U.S. Marshals Museum.

While it is unclear exactly what transpired in Oklahoma City, construction on Phase 2 of the project came to a full stop in early 1990 when it became apparent there was no money to pay “about 55 creditors [who] held more than $600,000 in construction debts,” the Dallas Morning News noted. “Mismanagement has been cited as a reason for the project’s failure.”103 Much finger pointing and name calling ensued between Jack McCrory, a former Marshals Service official, and Kenneth Collins, Marshals Foundation executive director at the time of the November 1989 dedication ceremony.

McCrory declared, “I was dismayed to see myself cast as the scapegoat for the memorial’s debt problems,” while Collins retorted, “There was a lot of enthusiasm and things were great, but the money just didn’t come in as anticipated, and everything was stopped.” Faced with these dire accusations, Collins optimistically said, “When you have leaders like Bryant, G.T. Blankenship and the rest of the board, things will turn around and be fantastic.”104 Things did not turn around, and the site was abandoned, with the property reverting to the city. The U.S. Marshals Foundation with Bryant still at the helm moved on to Laramie in 1991, carrying the debt along with it.105

While cursory mention of the Laramie failure is noted in Fort Smith, there is zero talk of the Oklahoma City episode. After four years of research on the topic I only found out about it accidentally. A common statement (p.241)

Doubling Down on the Wager of Frontier Tourism

Figure 8.3. Ruins of the Oklahoma City Marshals Memorial. A concrete replica of a marshal’s badge crumbles at the site of the deteriorating 1989 memorial.

Photo by the author.

in Fort Smith is that the Bass Reeves monument is the only memorial to a U.S. marshal. When I Googled around looking for other possible examples, I hit upon the U.S. Marshals Service website, which features a page with the Frontier Marshal statue.106 As it is a generic, nonspecific, yet somehow archetypal white male marshal, it is not any named marshal, so the claim on the Bass Reeves statue may still stand. The larger point is that officials at the Marshals Service are aware of the long legacy of these failed attempts; whether they have shared them with people working on the museum in Fort Smith is unknown. The community of Fort Smith certainly has not heard the full extent of museum problems in Laramie and is largely unaware of the 1989 Oklahoma City attempt.

One can still visit the abandoned 1989 memorial site today. I walked the overgrown ruins in June 2014. I could see the concrete pad where the visitor’s center and museum would have been. A short walk up into a clearing I found the outline of the marshal’s badge overlaid with a smaller, 10-foot-wide badge with a round plinth at its center point. It was disheartening to (p.242) see the remnants of so much time, money, and public trust decaying and crumbling away. Looking at the demise of two attempts at a U.S. Marshals memorial or museum, it is difficult not to look upon the present effort in Fort Smith and wonder what fate has in store for it.

Closing the Frontier Complex

Eight years into the U.S. Marshals Museum effort, the public still saw a brave face put on the endeavor. Occasionally, though, a bit of guard is let down. In January 2014 at the Sixth Annual Fort Smith History Conference, Marshals Museum board president Jim Spears participated in a session entitled “Marshals Museum Update.” It was, in part, Judge Spears’ success at leading the local effort of raising $300,000 for the Bass Reeves monument that landed him this new challenge. After reviewing a brief history on the project and discussing names and descriptions of exhibits to eventually be found in the museum, he grew more candid with his remarks: “We need fifty-three million [dollars]. We got about fifteen. We are hoping that some big foundation will come through.” A few minutes later he became extremely frank: “We’ve got about five million in cash…. We’ve got to have some sugar daddy come forward with a fairly large contribution. When that happens I think the waters will start flowing.” And then, with a combination of cocksureness and cruel optimism, he declared, “My assurance is that it’s going to happen or you’re going to step over my dead bloody body.”107 The anguish, torment, and concern in these remarks is inconsistent with a project that is so enthusiastically promoted as being a sure-fire economic engine.

Others have made public comments that throw light on the concern for how long it is taking to get the museum off the ground, not least of which came from Governor Beebe. While addressing members of the Chamber of Commerce on its 125th anniversary, he adamantly declared, “We’re going to have a Marshals Museum. You can book it Danno. It didn’t happen as fast as I wanted it to, but it’s going to happen. It’s going to create another tourist stop for our people.”108 At this point, asking why we need a Marshals Museum is not an exclusively academic question. Research supports a positive relation between having a clear need for such a facility and its having successful outcomes. If there is no strongly felt need for a museum, why would people come? Joanna Woronkowicz makes clear in the University of Chicago Set in Stone report on creating new museums that “the project manager needs to take into account both the demonstrated need for the (p.243) project (and how real that is).”109 Distinguishing enthusiasm from facts, in other words, would provide a more realistic assessment of the situation.

Let’s assume for a moment that the Marshals Museum clears the numerous hurdles in its path and opens its doors in the near future. Will people come? Will it be the promised economic engine to the region? The frontier history of deputies in Indian Territory that it will interpret will not differ substantially from that found at existing frontier sites and will therefore not attract a new demographic. However, a new offering in the Marshals Museum plans will be interpretations of the role the Marshals Service played in key civil rights events such as enforcing the Fugitive Slave Law, escorting James Meredith into the University of Mississippi, and participating at Wounded Knee II. These are complex stories that do not always paint the Marshals Service in a flattering light. It remains to be seen if financial support for the museum from retired deputies will continue to flow if exhibits depict the service critically.

The question here is why tourists interested in civil rights history would come to the Marshals Museum in Fort Smith when they could just as easily go to nearby sites where major events actually happened and that offer a wide variety of additional amenities: to Little Rock Central High National Historic Site or to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis incorporated around the Lorraine Motel. The Marshals Museum will lack the gravitas necessary to pull tourists out of these primary civil rights tourism orbits.

From this vantage point, we can now see the frontier complex as a crafted cultural space, as a master symbol that can be unraveled to expose the underlying power structures behind it. The ground upon which the Fort Smith frontier complex sits has gone through many claims in the past two hundred years. From Osage and Caddo to the U.S. military to abandonment; from Indian Territory to the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma; from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas to social service agencies; from the squatters village of Coke Hill to the National Historic Site; and today from homeless camps to the Marshals Museum.

At the national and local levels the frontier complex performs narratives of mythic justice, race, and gender that omit or elide the deleterious effects of manifest destiny and the injustices done to American Indians, African Americans, women, the disenfranchised, and the impoverished. Performances like those of Baridi Nkokheli complicate and even trouble such myth-making processes. Still, the mythic tropes of the Wild West (p.244) loom large behind the marketing scheme and the “frontier” brand that the leadership in Fort Smith, Arkansas, has wagered will attract tourist dollars.

The only questions remaining are these: How long will the frontier complex stay open for business? Will the redoubling era of the frontier complex pay out and be rewarded with a more profitable era? Or has the era of the frontier complex closed?

Notes:

(2.) Joseph Brennan and Mike Konz, “Kearney Arch Files for Bankruptcy Protection,” Omaha World-Herald, March 6, 2012, http://www.omaha.com/news/kearney-arch-files-for-bankruptcy-protection/article_8d2cf7dd-0695-531c-b6fa-20db4bb24531.html.

(3.) In Richard Green, “Efforts to Fund Oklahoma City Indian Museum and Cultural Center Move to Appropriations Process,” Oklahoman, April 28, 2014, http://newsok.com/efforts-to-fund-oklahoma-city-indian-museum-and-cultural-center-move-to-appropriations-process/article/4569026; Janelle Stecklein, “Indian Museum Just a Façade,” Muskogee Phoenix, June 8, 2014, http://www.muskogeephoenix.com/archives/sunday-extra-indian-museum-just-a-facade/article_e1877e83-af89-5738-95e2-b87bb09c467e.html.

(7.) “Evidence Museums Matter,” Museum Audience Insight, December 10, 2014, http://reachadvisors.typepad.com/museum_audience_insight/2014/12/evidence-museums-matter.html.

(9.) For a discussion of global imaginaries see Salazar and Graburn, Tourism Imaginaries.

(10.) Interview with author, field notes, June 18, 2014.

(11.) See Berlant, Cruel Optimism, for an analysis on how beliefs about social change have not kept pace with real changes in the economy.

(12.) “About the Marshals Museum Project,” U.S. Marshals Museum, 2015, http://usmarshalsmuseum.org/about.

(13.) “Fort Smith Named ‘True Western Town’ by True West Magazine,” City Wire, December 12, 2012, http://www.thecitywire.com/node/25519#.VbJgCrNVhBc.

(14.) “Sun Hasn’t Set on Fort Smith’s Western History, Heritage,” Arkansas Business, December 16, 2013, http://www.arkansasbusiness.com/article/96179/sun-hasnt-set-on-fort-smiths-western-history-heritage.

(15.) “Old West Status Brings Tourists, Jobs, Revenue, Pride,” editorial, Times Record, December 14, 2012.

(p.266) (16.) Mark Boardman, “Fort Smith, Arkansas, Is True West Magazine’s Top True Western Town,” True West, press release, December 12, 2012.

(17.) “NPS Stats,” National Park Service, https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/.

(18.) Caroline Speir e-mailed me the Fort Smith Museum of History figures, Carolyn Joyce e-mailed me Miss Laura’s figures, and Julie Moncrief messaged me on Facebook the data for the Clayton House.

(19.) Catherine Cullinane Thomas, Christopher Huber, and Lynne Koontz, “2013 National Park Visitor Spending Effects,” National Park Service, http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/docs/NPSVSE2013_final_nrss.pdf, 31, 38.

(20.) “A Comprehensive Plan for the City of Fort Smith, Arkansas,” Wallace Roberts and Todd, December 2014, http://www.fortsmithar.gov/Planning/files/14_FinalCompPlan.pdf, 20.

(21.) (2012) Annual Report Executive Summary, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, 2013, http://www.arkansas.com/!userfiles/editor/docs/apt-annual-report-financials-2012.pdf.

(22.) A comparison of the 2013 Annual Report Executive Summary reveals very similar data to the 2012 results; Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, 2014, http://www.arkansas.com/!userfiles/editor/docs/apt-2013-annual-report.pdf.

(23.) 2012 Annual Report Executive Summary, 86.

(24.) DuVal, Native Ground, 101; “Arkansas Tourism Officials Announce 2014 Henry Awards Nominees,” City Wire, December 17, 2013, http://www.thecitywire.com/node/30977#.U8rUYvldUrc.

(25.) “Fort Smith Wins Community Tourism Development Award,” Times Record, March 19, 2014.

(26.) John Lovett, “2014 GRIT Awards Recipients Announced,” Times Record, April 26, 2014.

(27.) Author’s field notes, April 25, 2013.

(28.) “GRIT Award Winners Named by Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Bureau,” City Wire, April 25, 2013, http://www.thecitywire.com/node/27565#.U8rZ_PldUrc.

(29.) Lynn Wasson, “GRIT Awards Honor Tourism Contributions,” Entertainment Fort Smith, 2012. http://www.efortsmith.com/features/index.cfm/GRIT-Awards-honor-tourism-contributions/-/aid/34/.

(30.) Author’s field notes, Movie Lounge event center, Fort Smith, April 25, 2013.

(31.) In actuality, they gut the interiors and retain only the appearance of the old façade.

(32.) Rusty Garrett, “CBID OKs Retail/Residential Project for Downtown Fort Smith,” Times Record, April 25, 2013, http://swtimes.com/sections/news/cbid-oks-retailresidential-project-downtown-fort-smith.html.

(33.) Self-disclosure: the author served on the board of Next Step Homeless (p.267) Services from 2008 to 2014. The other two agencies are the Salvation Army and the Community Rescue Mission. So-called point-in-time counts consistently show sixty to eighty individuals experiencing homelessness on a given night.

(34.) “Fort Smith Board Agrees to Pursue Homeless Task Force Ideas,” City Wire, March 20, 2010, http://www.thecitywire.com/node/9251#.U8rqgPldUrc.

(35.) Ken Pyle, “Commentary: Riverview Hope Campus ‘Better Way’ to Address Homelessness,” Times Record, September 30, 2014, http://swtimes.com/opinion/commentary-riverview-hope-campus-better-way-address-homelessness.

(38.) Kristen Inbody, “Museum Considers Fort Smith,” Times Record, October 3, 2003.

(39.) Alison Vekshin, “Senators Wed City, Museum,” Times Record, October 25, 2003.

(40.) “Fort Smith Natural Site for Museum,” editorial, Times Record, December 14, 2003.

(41.) In Mary Crider, “Fort Smith Considered for U.S. Marshals Museum, Times Record, January 29, 2004.

(42.) “Fort Smith a ‘Natural’ Museum Location,” editorial, Times Record, February 2, 2004; “City Deserves U.S. Marshals Museum,” editorial, Times Record, April 5, 2004.

(43.) U.S. Deputy Marshals: 200 Years of Grit, DVD.

(44.) Mary Crider, “Marshals Service Plans to Visit Museum Site,” Times Record, November 10, 2005; “It’s Show Time!” editorial, Times Record, November 11, 2005; Rusty Garrett, “Marshals View Possible Site for Museum,” Times Record, November 18, 2005; “City Perfect Location for Museum,” editorial, Times Record, November 27, 2005.

(45.) “Project’s Goal: Bring Museum Home to Area,” editorial, Times Record, May 31, 2006.

(46.) In Steve Tetreault, “City Pitches Marshals Museum,” Times Record, June 28, 2006.

(47.) “City Named Museum Finalist,” editorial, Times Record, July 25, 2006.

(48.) In Aaron Sadler, “Fort Smith Rival Makes Museum Pitch,” Times Record, December 4, 2006.

(49.) Pam Cloud, “Residents Cry, ‘Bring It Home,’” Times Record, November 16, 2006.

(50.) Pam Cloud, “City Makes Case; Marshals Museum Site in Panel’s Hands,” Times Record, November 18, 2014.

(51.) “Marshals Select Fort Smith for Museum,” Arkansas News, January 4, 2007.

(p.268) (52.) In Pam Cloud, “City Hosts Victory Celebration,” Times Record, January 8, 2007.

(53.) “Federal Funding May Be Possible for Museum,” Times Record, January 17, 2007; “Surplus Trough Is Open in Little Rock,” editorial, Times Record, February 22, 2007; “Beebe Signs Bills Funding Museum,” Times Record, April 5, 2007.

(54.) Pam Cloud, “Marshals Director to Visit,” Times Record, February 19, 2007.

(55.) Amy Sherrill, “Panel Eyes Museum’s Location,” Times Record, August 6, 2007; Amy Sherrill, “Panel Picks Riverfront for Museum,” Times Record, September 18, 2007.

(56.) Mary Crider, “Heritage Tourism Grows,” Times Record, May 2, 2005.

(57.) Amy Sherrill, “Beebe Cuts Museum Check,” Times Record, February 29, 2008.

(58.) “Building Design Photos Provided by Marshals Museum Architect,” City Wire, April 24, 2009, http://www.thecitywire.com/node/3806#.U9ZnM_ldUrc.

(59.) “Walton Foundation Gives $2 Million to Marshals Museum,” City Wire, August 19, 2014, http://www.thecitywire.com/node/29103#.U9ZktvldUrc, with the Walton Family Foundation Report, 2013, http://2013annualreport.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/walton-family-foundation-2014-annual-report.pdf?v=1.

(60.) U.S. Marshals Museum Board of Directors meeting, June 10, 2014, board agenda and author’s notes.

(61.) The City Wire consistently prints the cost of the museum to be $53 million, while the Times Record uses the figure $50 million. At the June 2014 Marshals Museum board meeting it was made clear that the board would not have a definite figure until contracts for construction came in. Three months from the September 24, 2014 official groundbreaking there was still a great deal of ambiguity regarding costs. For an updated financial picture see “Our Progress,” U.S. Marshals Museum, http://usmarshalsmuseum.org/our-progress.

(62.) “Marshals Museum Director: 165,000 Visitors Possible,” City Wire, May 25, 2011.

(63.) Author’s transcription, Hylton’s November 9, 2013, speech at the cornerstone dedication.

(64.) Stacy Ryburn, “Fallen Marshals Honored,” Times Record, November 9, 2013; Ryan Saylor, “US Marshals Director: Fort Smith Is ‘Sacred Ground,’” City Wire, November 11, 2013, http://www.thecitywire.com/node/30434#.VE0p_fl4rdc.

(65.) Mary Crider, “Museum Unveils Sept. 11 Attack Artifact,” Times Record, September 11, 2012.

(66.) Quotations from the video are my transcription; “Your Marshal: Yesterday’s Legends—Tomorrow’s Heroes,” video, uploaded to YouTube by U.S. Marshals Museum, August 27, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EH5uKUdiVe0.

(p.269) (68.) Peter Urban, “Experts Don’t See Sellout for Marshals Coin,” Times Record, June 29, 2014.

(69.) “‘A Lot to Accomplish’ in 2014 for Marshals Museum,” City Wire, December 10, 2013, http://www.thecitywire.com/node/30860#.U7mrKvldUrc; “U.S. Marshal Historian Brings Weapon to Museum Meeting,” City Wire, March 9, 2010, http://www.thecitywire.com/node/8823#.U7mr3_ldUrc; personal e-mail correspondence between the author and the James Preservation Trust, June 6, 2014; “The Hangman and His Winchester,” Marshals Museum Guns of the Frontier Lecture Series, April 14, 2014, author’s transcription and field notes.

(70.) Author’s notes and transcription of audio recording, Marshals Museum board meeting, June 10, 2014.

(71.) Author’s transcription, recorded Marshals Museum groundbreaking ceremony, Fort Smith, September 24, 2014.

(72.) “Army Corps of Engineers Says It Will Not Give up Land for U.S. Marshals Museum,” 40/29 News, March 26, 2015, http://www.4029tv.com/news/army-corps-of-engineers-says-it-will-not-give-up-land-for-us-marshals-museum/29730232.

(73.) “124-Year-Old Warner, Smith and Harris Firm to Close Doors,” City Wire, June 21, 2011, http://www.thecitywire.com/node/16382#.VE0t1vl4rdc.

(75.) Lisa C. Jones, “Six-Gun Gallery East St. Louis Site Is a Finalist for Marshals Museum,” Post-Dispatch, July 29, 1990.

(76.) America’s Star, news release, Wyoming Territorial Park, August 1991, archives, Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.

(77.) “National U.S. Marshals Museum,” brochure, Wyoming Territorial Park, archives, Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.

(78.) Gretchen Glick to Senator Malcolm Wallop, July 29, 1991, Director of Development, archives, Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.

(79.) In Julia Prodis, “Wyo Wins Bid for Marshals Museum,” Casper Star-Tribune, August 2, 1991.

(81.) Steven Rosen, “Laramie Will Pin on Badge as Home for Marshal’s Artifacts,” Denver Post, August 11, 1991.

(82.) “Vision Plan: The United States Marshals Museum,” July, 1995, archives, Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.

(83.) “November 12, 1998, National U.S. Marshals Museum Trustees Minutes,” archives, Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.

(84.) Stanley E. Morris to David Manuel, undated, archives, Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site; program, 1989 United States Marshals National Memorial dedication.

(p.270) (85.) “National U.S. Marshals Museum Trustees Minutes,” July 19, 1998, archives, Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.

(86.) “Laramie Park Still in Midst of Financial Problems May Close,” Sheridan Press, October 27, 2000.

(87.) Goodman to Reyna, August 21, 2002, archives, Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.

(88.) Wyoming Territorial Park to U.S. Department of Justice, September 4, 2002, archives, Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.

(89.) Angela Brooks, “Territorial Park to Get Rid of Marshals Exhibit,” Laramie Boomerang, September 6, 2002.

(90.) Angela Brooks, “Wyoming Territorial Park Forecloses Storage Lien,” Laramie Boomerang, October 9, 2002.

(91.) Ollie Hill to Jamie Newbrough, April 11, 2003, archives, Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.

(92.) “Marshals Service Sues Territorial Park over Artifacts,” unidentified newspaper, October 29, 2002, archives, Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.

(93.) Angela Brooks, “Park Ironing out Problems with U.S. Marshals Service,” Laramie Boomerang, November 14, 2002.

(94.) Amy Sherrill, “City Welcomes Marshals Artifacts,” Times Record, November 9, 2007.

(95.) “About” page, Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Park website, http://www.wyomingterritorialprison.com/about/.

(96.) For how the transition of the Marshals Museum from Laramie to Fort Smith was glossed see Rusty Garrett, “City on Short List for Museum,” Times Record, November 18, 2005; Aaron Sadler, “Marshals Museum Coming Home: Officials Cite City’s Legacy, Support of Community,” Times Record, January 5, 2007.

(97.) “United States Marshals Foundation Bicentennial Stamp and Print Edition by Frederic Remington,” brochure, date unknown, produced by Ambassador Graphics and Wildlife Gallery, North Charleston, SC.

(98.) Bellmon quoted in Tim Ray, “Memorial to U.S. Marshals Planned near Cowboy Hall/6.5 Million Project,” Journal Record, May 26, 1988; second quote is from Ed Godfrey, “Marshals Coming to City Memorial, Museum Planned,” Oklahoman, May 26, 1988, http://newsok.com/marshals-coming-to-city-memorial-museum-planned-near-cowboy-hall/article/2227022.

(99.) Jon Denton, “Memorial Will Honor Marshals Plans Unfolding for Site Near City’s Cowboy Hall of Fame,” Oklahoman, September 11, 1988, http://newsok.com/memorial-will-honor-marshals-plans-unfolding-for-site-near-citys-cowboy-hall-of-fame/article/2238840.

(100.) First quote in Jack Money, “Exhibit Honoring U.S. Marshals Arrives at Cowboy Hall of Fame,” Oklahoman, March, 22, 1989, http://newsok.com/exhibit-honoring-u.s.-marshals-arrives-at-cowboy-hall-of-fame/article/2259826; (p.271) second quote in Ed Godfrey, “Marshals Coming to City Memorial, Museum Planned,” Oklahoman, May 26, 1988, http://newsok.com/marshals-coming-to-city-memorial-museum-planned-near-cowboy-hall/article/2227022.

(101.) Dignitary list, “United States Marshals National Memorial Dedication Program,” program, November 8, 1989, Oklahoma City; Bellmon quote in Jack Money, “Memorial Honors Slain Marshals, Bellmon Says Oklahomans Must Remember Sacrifices of 400,” Oklahoman, November 9, 1989, http://newsok.com/memorial-honors-slain-marshals-bellmon-says-oklahomans-must-remember-sacrifices-of-400/article/2291194.

(102.) Blankenship quoted In Jack Money, “Memorial Honors Slain Marshals, Bellmon Says Oklahomans Must Remember Sacrifices of 400,” Oklahoman, November 9, 1989, http://newsok.com/memorial-honors-slain-marshals-bellmon-says-oklahomans-must-remember-sacrifices-of-400/article/2291194.

(103.) “Long-Standing Debt May Force Loss of Site for U.S. Marshals Memorial,” Dallas Morning News, October 20, 1992.

(104.) In Jack Money, “Marshals Memorial Blame Denied, $347,000 Debt Forces Construction Halt,” Oklahoman, August 3, 1990, http://newsok.com/marshals-memorial-blame-denied-347000-debt-forces-construction-halt/article/2326145.

(105.) Penny Owen, “Weeds, Neglect, Debt Entangle Law Memorial,” Oklahoman, October 19, 1992, http://newsok.com/weeds-neglect-debt-entangle-law-memorial/article/2409806.

(106.) “History,” United States Marshals Service, http://www.justice.gov/marshals/history/frontier.

(107.) Jim Spears, “Marshals Museum Update,” presentation, Sixth Annual Fort Smith History Conference, January 25, 2013, author’s transcription of recording.

(108.) Ryan Saylor, “City ‘Resiliency’ Noted at 125th Fort Smith Chamber Anniversary,” City Wire, November 5, 2013, http://www.thecitywire.com/node/30367#.U8wkS_ldUrc.