Tour The Historic Landmark District & Steamboat Levee Walk

Fort Benton
   The Birthplace of MontanaTM




Touring historic Fort Benton


Fort Benton Levee Map











A. Old Fort Benton
Founded in 1846 by Alexander Culbertson, old Fort Benton was the most successful fur and buffalo robe trading post on the Upper Missouri River.  The Fort is being reconstructed by the community, and is open to the public June through the end of September.


B. Museum of the Upper Missouri
Displays and artifacts tell the story of the early history and the cast of characters who populated the Upper Missouri River & Fort Benton, Montana's most historic city.


C.  Centennial Stone:  Erected in 1946 as a commemorative monument to the first one hundred years of Fort Benton's Existence.

D. World War I Doughboy
A series of these statues were erected by public subscription after World War I to honor our dead from the Great War. 


E. Whoop-Up Trail Monument:  The Stone and plaque mark the beginning of an international trail that served the western Canadian provinces until the arrival of the railroads.

F. Montana's Lewis & Clark Memorial
The State of Montana's Official monument to the Expedition, designated in 1926 but not completed until the Bicentennial in 1976.  Bob Scriver Sculptor. 

G.  The Keelboat Mandan
Replica of the keelboats used on the Missouri River prior to the arrival of the steamboats.  The Mandan was built for the movie "Big Sky".

H. Captain John Mullan & The Mullan Road
A National Civil Engineering Historic Site, the Mullan Road was the first federal road in the West.  It traveled from this point to Fort Walla Walla on the Columbia River

I. Thomas Francis Meagher Memorial
American soldier and statesman; Brigadier General United States Army; Raised and organized the Irish Brigade of the Army of the Potomac, and personally commanded it in the Battles of Fair Oaks, Mechanicsville, Gaines' Mill, White Oaks Swamp, Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, Antietam, and Chancellorsville.  Acting Governor of Montana from September 1865 to July 1, 1867 when he drowned in the Missouri River near the monument.

J.  T.C. Power and Company 1867-1932: This building is the last store of the company which, during the steamboat days, was one of two mercantile empires the dominated Montana and the Northwest.

K.  The Chouteau House From a frame building to a three-story brick structure, this fabled house was one of the finest.  It was operated for years by the dapper Irishman Jere Sullivan, the ambassador of good will in Fort Benton.

L. The Baker House
Home of the most powerful trading company in the region.  The Baker's and Conrad's controlled their vast empire from this unpretentious house.

M.  Bloodiest Block in the West: This block contained the wildest business district in the West, saloons, dance halls and brothels lined Front Street. In this block twelve of the thirteen businesses were saloons, dance halls or brothels.

N. The Rider of the Purple Sage
N.  The Rider of the Purple Sage
Heroic sized bronze by actor/artist George Montgomery (1918-2000) and artist Gary Schildt.

O. Old Fort Benton Bridge
First bridge to span the Missouri River in Montana.  The first span was a swing span to allow passage of steamboat. First bridge to span the Missouri River in Montana.  The first span was a swing span to allow passage of steamboat.  The flood of 1908 collapsed the swing span, it was replaced by the present one in 1921.  The bridge has been restored by the community and is now open to foot traffic.

P. Old Engine House
Fort Benton's first firehouse. It contains the original hand pumper that came upriver by steamboat.  The building later served as City Hall and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Q. Shep Memorial and Statue
A memorial and heroic sized statue of the faithful dog Shep by artist Bob Scriver.

R.  Upriver Businesses: The first mercantile's  and hotels were located here; only one building remains after a fire in 1950.  It housed the Masonic Lodge upstairs and a mercantile on the ground floor.

S. Grand Union Hotel
Finest accommodations between Minneapolis and Seattle.  It hosted the rich and the famous, and was the heart of social life in Fort Benton during the golden years.

T.  Stockman's National Bank: Built at the end of the steamboat era, it handled accounts of big stockmen during the days of the open range; closed in 1924.

U.  Wells Fargo Office: This small building was a bank, telegraph office and stage line office.

V.  Murphy, Neal and Co.: Originally the mercantile establishment of Murphy, Neel and Co.;  later became Davis Brothers Grocery.

W.  Site of Fort Campbell:  Established  by the St. Louis Fur Company in 1847, Fort Campbell was located just one mile from its rival, Fort Benton.  Fort Campbell was operated by Alexander Harvey, probably the wildest, probably the wildest, meanest trader on the Upper Missouri.  Following Harvey's death the Fort was sold to Chouteau and Company in 1860 and then later was occupied as a Jesuit monastery.

X.  Site of Fort LaBarge: In 1863, John and Joseph LaBarge, famous river pilots, along with James Harkness and other partners established Fort LaBarge.  Located just upriver from old Fort Campbell it was sold to the American Fur Company in 1863.

Y. Nez Perce National Historic Trail Monument
On September 21, 1877, Major Guido Ilges, the commandant at Fort Benton, got word that the Nez Perce had traveled across the Judith Basin headed for Canada.  Thirteen members of Company F, plus two volunteers, loaded a mountain howitzer onto a mackinaw boat and set off down the Missouri River.  Thirty-eight volunteers and one soldier followed on horseback. They intended to protect Fort Claggett and the freight at the Cow Island steamboat landing.  They were too late.  Before they reached Cow Island, they could see flames in the distance.  Near Cow Creek, the Nez Perce had confronted a wagon freight train hauling supplies from Cow Island to Fort Benton, taken the supplies they needed and set fire to the rest.  Outnumbered, the troops turned back to Fort Benton.

Z. Upper Missouri River Breaks Interpretive Center
The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument Interpretive Center opened in October 2006 and is located at 701 7th Street. Its purpose is to help visitors to the area appreciate and understand the cultural and natural history of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, the wild and scenic river, and their surroundings.  The center also houses the river management staff and serves as a contact and registration location for boaters.


 

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