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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fort Benton - Montanna

We had a great day in Fort Benton.... Today, the City of Fort Benton is a National Historic Landmark which retains much of its "steamboat days" character. Many of the buildings located within its historic district were constructed during the 1880s. Here are pictures of Culbertson's house & a bank both built during 1880.

Our first stop of the day was at the Museum of the Upper Missouri. Displays guides you through the history of Fort Benton, from the time of fur trading, military posts, and into the gold rush era.
Fort Benton had a history of being one of the roughest towns with brothels, gunslingers, gambling and just plain old crooked men.

We visited the remains of the National Landmark "Old Fort," the oldest building in Montana. It can be found in the city park and thanks to the Daughters of the American Revolution who took on the rescue of the crumbling adobe structure in 1908 we can still see a part of the original Fort. Much of it had already been destroyed by then. Most of the reconstructed Fort contained artifacts from the old days including many things from the Indians. They had a blacksmith shop set up and also a general store which traded goods to the Indians and traders for animal pelts. It was what I would have imagined it to look like in those days.

The largest and most historic building in Fort Benton, the Grand Union hotel was built in 1882. Unfortunately for it's owners, the following year the Northern Pacific Railroad was completed, which greatly diminished Fort Benton's importance as a steamship terminus. The hotel survived, however, and today you can still spent the night there. They also have a restaurant inside where you can have dinner.

We then visited the The Upper Missouri River Breaks Interpretive Center. It highlights the natural and cultural history of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. It had a life size version of a Murphy freight wagon that pulled supplies (brought up river on steamboats) to far areas of Montana and beyond.

This pretty little courthouse building was constructed in 1884. It is the second oldest courthouse in Montana.

We had lunch in town at a little restaurant named Bob' which was nothing extraordinary just good food. Then we walked up Main street along the river... All along the street they have historic signs telling you about the buildings and events in the town. At the end of town the is a huge bronze statue of Lewis & Clark also Sacajawea. Also you guessed it my wonderful Ice Cream Shop. I just had to have another for the road.

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