Towson Avenue is one of the oldest thoroughfares in the city. Its origin dates back to 1827 when then Lt. Benjamin Bonneville surveyed the path for a road to connect Fort Smith to Fort Towson, Indian Territory. In 1832, a second survey and path was laid for a new trail to Fort Towson starting at a point well south of the city limits then and across the Poteau River in Indian Territory. Also called the Texas Road in early sources, the segment of the road called Towson Avenue today is likely along the same line surveyed by Bonneville.
When soldiers left Fort Smith to fight in the Mexican War, the marched down Towson to Texas then Mexico. It was used by the Overland and Butterfield stage coach lines in the antebellum period and was the road used by federal troops when they evacuated Fort Smith at the start of the Civil War in April 1861. Today, it is a part of U.S. Highway 71.
Source: "Famous Road Of Early Day Gets Marker," Southwest Times Record, 1932, undated clip from scrapbook in the Archives of the Fort Smith Historical Society.