|Fort Benton was
established by Alexander Culbertson in
1846, to secure trade with the Blackfeet Nation in the
Upper Missouri River region. The 1860's gold
rushes brought prospectors, traders, homesteaders, and
merchandise to this northwest gateway by
steamboat. Fort Benton's merchant princes sent
traders with whiskey into Canada to lure Indian people
away from trade with the Hudson Bay Company.
Resulting lawlessness brought the Northwest Mounted
Police (NWMP) into present day Alberta and Saskatchewan.
|As the Mounties
worked to curtail the whiskey trade, they brought the
same Fort Benton companies back to western Canada to
supply their posts. Convoys of freight wagons
carried food, supplies, mail, and treaty rations to
Canada and returned with buffalo bones and hides, furs.
wolf pelts, and coal. The railroad replaced
steamboats, the trails became a thing of the past, and
Fort Benton's role as an international port faded.
A National Historic Landmark, Fort Benton, is the
southernmost point of the Old Forts Trail.