Old Fort Benton was established in 1846 by the American Fur Company and named for Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, the company’s congressional ally.
Fort Benton — Birthplace of Montana
Fort Benton is a national treasure … it is here that the magnitude of the US western expansion became real for us. It is still hard to believe that, for a short time in the 1860’s, this remote town was a busy port for steamboats venturing up the Missouri River from as far away as New Orleans … 3,485 miles away! The steamboat levee is now a park complete with interpretive signs and monuments highlighting the towns captivating history.
Nothing exemplifies Fort Benton’s Golden Years more than the Grand Union Hotel. When it was built in 1882 it was the most luxurious hotel between Minneapolis and Seattle.
Trappers, army officers, cowboys, buffalo hunters, missionaries, miners and other fortune seekers once mingled in the lobby and restaurant.
One of Fort Benton’s biggest celebrities is a boarder collie named Shep. Click here to read his story ... it's a real tearjerker.
This statue is Montana’s official monument to the Corps of Discovery. Lewis and Clark piloted their canoes through this area on June 10, 1805.
The Conrad Brothers operated the I.G. Baker Mercantile Company. After 23 years, Charles Conrad left for the Flathead Valley where he founded the town of Kalispell.
Fort Benton’s architectural gem is the 1916 Carnegie library... the oldest county library in Montana. The librarian explained that funds for the library preservation and expansion were provided by the estate of a local resident. The estate did stipulate, however, that the integrity of the library’s original design be maintained.
The Montana Room was filled with books and ephemera on Montana history. The leather chairs and fireplace invite one to linger.
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