The U.S. Army built the original flagstaff at the second Fort Smith in 1846. As with many western military posts, the flagstaff stood tall so that its flag could be seen for miles. To attain a height of nearly 100 feet, the army joined two poles in the same way that ship masts were built. Historically, shroud lines attached to cross trees supported the area where the poles were joined, while guidelines and an underground wooden structure stabilized the base.
When the army closed Fort Smith in 1871, they removed the flagstaff. The "Old Fort Militia," a local citizen support group, in cooperation with the National Park Service rebuilt the flagstaff in 1984-85. Its 37-star flag is a replica of the last flag flown here by the army, from 1867-1871.