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.
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
C. Centennial Stone:
Erected in 1946 as a
commemorative monument to the first one hundred years of
Fort Benton's Existence.
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:
Stone and plaque mark the beginning of an international
trail that served the western Canadian provinces until
the arrival of the railroads.
State of Montana's Official monument to the Expedition,
designated in 1926 but not completed until the
Bicentennial in 1976. Bob Scriver Sculptor.
Replica of the keelboats
used on the Missouri River prior to the arrival of the
steamboats. The Mandan was built for the movie
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
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
Home of the most powerful trading
company in the region. The Baker's and Conrad's
controlled their vast empire from this unpretentious
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
bronze by actor/artist George Montgomery (1918-2000) and
artist Gary Schildt.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.