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.