Talimena National Scenic Byway -- Old Military Road Picnic Area, Leflore Co. OK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 34° 47.803 W 094° 56.685
15S E 322088 N 3852223
Quick Description: The Old Military Road is an important historic site along the Talimena Scenic Byway
Location: Oklahoma, United States
Date Posted: 12/6/2017 5:03:55 PM
Waymark Code: WMX777
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member saopaulo1
Views: 0

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

A sign at the Old Military Road trail reads as follows:

"MILITARY ROAD OF 1832
Legacy of the pick and shovel

The military road is one of many roads constructed by “pick and shovel” soldiers. During the exceptionally wet spring of 1832, a detachment of soldiers labored in rain and mud with hand tools and mule drawn scrapers to carve the 150-mile route over Winding Stair Mountain. This road, connecting Fort Smith and Fort Townsend, was built to defend the frontier, and also used to relocate the Choctaw tribe to Oklahoma.
Early Hollywood images of the cavalry charging to the rescue paint an exciting picture of US Army life in the 1800s. However, soldiers posted at frontier garrisons were more likely to wield picks and shovels than guns and sabers. Roadbuilding was an important military duty -- a chore for which soldiers received an extra gill of whiskey (equal to a half cup) and 15 cents a day."

A plate-style state historic marker at the site reads as follows:

"Ft. Smith - Ft. Towson Military Road

This road extended through the Choctaw Nation over 130 miles of rugged terrain and raging streams. It was blazed by Col. Robert Bean and constructed by Captain John Stuart and used to carry supplies and move troops and emigrants through the region. The route crossed the Winding Stair Mtn. at this point.

Eastern Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma Historical Society and State Highway Commission 1975."

From the National Park Service: (visit link)

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

From the Explore Southern History blog: (visit link)

"An Oklahoma Historic Road
Near the western end of the beautiful
Talimena Drive National Scenic Byway, a
park and interpretive signs mark the point
where the historic Fort Smith to Fort Towson
Military Road crossed Winding Stair Mountain.
The old road, faint traces of which can be
seen in the park, was built by the U.S. Army in
1832. Connecting the frontier outposts of Fort
Smith, Arkansas and Fort Towson,
Oklahoma, the road was constructed by
soldiers who labored in muddy conditions
using hand tools and mule-drawn equipment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website: [Web Link]

Official Name: Talimena National Scenic Byway

Visit Instructions:
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Benchmark Blasterz visited Talimena National Scenic Byway -- Old Military Road Picnic Area, Leflore Co. OK 11/11/2017 Benchmark Blasterz visited it