It happened on January 11, 1898 and continued after midnight into the 12th, causing mixed records, some reporting the tornado as the 12th.
More than 50 people were killed and more than 100 were injured in the rated F4 twister, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Here is the account of the tornado as shown in Thomas P. Grazulis' book "Significant Tornadoes" 1680-1991:
"One of a family of tornadoes, this devastating event touched down on
the west edge of Fort Smith, near the National Cemetery. The tornado
family may have begun as far southwest as Bois, Oklahoma. Moving
east-northeast through the heart of the sleeping city, it leveled
dozens of homes and businesses, and tore off the upper stories of
large brick buildings, such as the new $50,000 high school. The town
was said to be "crowded with rural visitors" and some unidentified
people may have been killed in boarding room fires. There were 33
people killed outright and at least 19 more died from injuries.
Sixteen people died in a single residential block. The tornado
continued to the east-northeast, crossing the Arkansas River south of
Van Buren, where three more people were killed as farms were
destroyed. A Fort Smith street sign was carried 22 miles. Roofing
shingles were carried for 35 miles. The tornado dissipated 4 miles
east of Van Buren."
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