Though the days of riding after outlaws on horseback are long gone, the deputy U.S. marshals of the Western District Office in Arkansas still go the distance to do their jobs.

The Western District Office, located on Sixth Street in downtown Fort Smith, is surrounded by history and legends of when it functioned as the sendoff point for deputy U.S. marshals to travel west into Native American territory to apprehend criminals. Though modern technology makes their jobs easier, the deputy U.S. Marshals at the office today still arrange out-of-state arrests and see them through to the end.

"We’ve come a long away from Judge Isaac C. Parker days," said Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Dewaine Allen of the Western District Office.

The Western District Office in Arkansas oversees 34 counties and six courts between Mountain Home and El Dorado. The office rose to fame from the second half of the 19th century, when deputy U.S. Marshals such as Bass Reeves and Addison Beck were routinely sent into Native American Territory — what is now Oklahoma — to arrest fugitives.

Allen said more deputy U.S. Marshals lost their lives in Oklahoma and the western district of Arkansas than anywhere else in the country. He said much of the danger of the job stemmed from the nature of the Old West during that time period.

"There were no laws out west," Allen said. "Everybody carried a gun, and you got in a bar fight, and you shot one another."

Other deputy U.S. marshals at the Western District Office notice differences between then and now as well. Deputy U.S. Marshal Mike Ogelsby said these differences are apparent whenever he drives into Oklahoma.

“We cross the river in a Dodge Durango or Charger and make it over to Sallisaw," Ogelsby said. "Back in the day, I’m not sure they could do it in a day. If they could, it’d be a long day.”

Allen said the job description of a deputy U.S. Marshal has changed "a lot" since the latter half of the 19th century. Today, deputy U.S. marshals are in charge of protecting federal judges, transporting federal prisoners and protecting government witnesses.

"We do so many different things on a daily basis," supervisory deputy U.S. Marshal Timothy Greer said. "You almost can’t get bored unless you’re just trying to get bored."

Though their job description has evolved, deputy U.S. marshals still arrange arrests across state — and even international — lines. A recent international arrest made by officials with the U.S. Marshals Service was that of Stephen Morais in Zacatecas, Mexico.

Deputy U.S. marshals partnered with Mexican authorities to make the arrest.

“We may not have arrest authorities in many countries, nor does the U.S. have extradition treaties with all countries, but we work with the State Department to facilitate arrests and extradition," Allen said of international arrests.

Despite the up-to-date nature of the job, the history and legend surrounding the Western District Office still provides a draw for some to work there. One person who felt this draw is Ogelsby, who worked as a sheriff in Polk County in the Western District for 22 years prior to applying.

"I read the books about ‘Hell on the Border’ and all of those things, and to get a chance to be the U.S. marshal would cap out anybody’s career," Ogelsby said.

After applying and being accepted, Ogelsby was appointed to the office by former President Barack Obama. All deputy U.S. marshals are appointed by the sitting president and confirmed by Congress.

"To be a U.S. marshal at probably the most famous marshal’s office in the country ... It’s kind of icing on the cake," Ogelsby said.

“If you care anything about history, you know about the Marshals Service," Greer said. "The history that comes with it just gives a sense of pride for anybody who happens to be a deputy U.S. marshal."