The Project to Reconstruct Old Fort Benton

The Reconstruction Project

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Historic Old Fort Benton

The site of historic Fort Benton is of national significance and deserving of all possible efforts to protect it.  However, the site has undergone many dramatic changes that have affected its integrity since the Fort was abandoned in 1881 . Sun dried adobe bricks were not able to stand up to the ravages of Montana's weather and by the 1940's only the preserved north- east bastion and a partial wall from the Engages' Quarters remained. Trees were planted throughout the site and it was transformed into a part of the city park.  Ever since the Fort was abandoned the site has experienced continuing erosion including the construction of an asphalt road through the site, and sewer lines, power lines, and an underground sprinkler system were brought through the site. Each year an unknown number of artifacts were removed by souvenir hunters.  It was evident the site had to be protected or, in the not too distant future, there would be nothing remaining from the last of the trading posts on the Upper Missouri River.

A number of methods to preserve the cultural resource of the Fort were examined.  It has been determined that the most effective method will be to reconstruct the Fort over the site thereby encapsulating the resource forever and preventing further degradation and erosion.

SCOPE OF THE PROJECT

Historic Fort Benton is being reconstructed as historically accurate as possible, based on the results of the archaeological excavations and extensive research.

Included in the Reconstruction Plan: The 29, 946 square foot Compound
The Trade Store (1,500 square feet)
The Warehouse(1,625 square feet on each floor)
The Blacksmith - Carpenters Shop (875 square feet)
The NW Blockhouse (400 square feet on each floor)
The Engagees' Quarters (2,250 square feet on each floor)
The Bourgeois Quarters (2,250 square feet on each floor)
The SW Blockhouse (400 square feet on each floor)
The Kitchen (875 square feet on each floor)
The Barn (1,400 square feet)

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROJECT PROGRESS

The Trade Store,  the Warehouse, the Blacksmith and Carpenter's Shop, the "Sally Port" Gate, the Compound walls, and the Agents Quarters/Bourgeois House, which is home to the renowned Starr Gallery of Western Art have been reconstructed.

Negotiations with the Blackfeet Nation, seeking their involvement in interpreting the fur and robe trade, have taken place.  Elders from the Blood or Kainai tribe, the Siksika, the Northern Piegan or Piikani, and the Southern Piegan or Pikuni tibes have spent many hours, recording their oral history and remembrances of Fort Benton, as the first step in developing the Blackfeet Nation's interpretation.  The Restoration Committee and representatives appointed by the Blackfeet Tribal Council have developed and implemented an interpretive plan which may now be viewed in the Warehouse interpretive area.

The Fort, is operated by the River & Plains Society, as a part of their Heritage Complex and Museums is now open to the public daily, from the end of May through the end of September.

 

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Photographs and artwork within this website may not be copied or reproduced without written permission of the Fort Benton Restoration Committee and the River & Plains Society.   
Copyright and reproduction rights apply.

© Fort Benton Restoration Committee, P.O. Box 262, Fort Benton, MT 59442
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