Fort Benton, the head of navigation on the Missouri River, is known as the "Birthplace of Montana." Its history spans every era in Montana's development. Founded in 1846 as a fur-trading post, it is Montana's oldest continuous settlement. Arrival of the first steamboats and completion of the Mullan Road in 1860 heralded the steamboat era, bringing gold seekers, merchant princes, scoundrels, soldiers, North West Mounted Police, and eventually women and children to the wild frontier. Then came the railroads, open-range ranching, and homesteaders by the thousands. Today Fort Benton serves the agricultural Golden Triangle and presents its colorful history through cultural tourism.
About the Author
Ken Robison is historian at the Overholser Historical Research Center (OHRC) in Fort Benton. He is a trustee of the River and Plains Society and Museum Complex and a retired navy captain. Postcards in this book are from Ken's personal collection, the OHRC, and the Tom Mulvaney Collection.
Table of Contents
1 Nature's Highway: On the Upper Missouri 9
2 From Pelts to Robes: The Fur Trade Era 21
3 Going to the Mountains: Steamboats and Overland Freighting 37
4 Golden Years: Building the Town 55
5 Chicago of the Plains: Historic Buildings, Colorful Characters 67
6 Two Historic Gems: Grand Union and Fort Benton Bridge 95
7 Venice on the Missouri: The Great Flood of 1908 103
8 From Bison to Beef and Wheat: Agricultural Era 109
9 Remembering the Past: Celebrating Fort Benton History 119
About the River and Plains Society 127
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