Fort Benton (1845-1881) - Established first as Fort Lewis (2), an American Fur Company fur trading post in 1845. It was moved in 1846 and rebuilt in 1850. Renamed Fort Benton 25 Dec 1850 after Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. Abandoned 31 May 1881.
Fort Benton History
The original Fort Lewis (2) was located on the south bank of the Missouri River just west of Fort Benton opposite Pablois Island. This fort was torn down and moved to the site of Fort Benton in 1846 although it retained the Fort Lewis (2) name until 1850. Alexander Culbertson ran the American Fur Company from Fort Benton for several years and began the conversion of the post from a log fortification to adobe construction.
Fort Benton was over 150 feet square exclusive of the 20-foot square two story bastions. Portholes in the bastion walls for both cannon and riflemen commanded a shooting range on all four sides of the fort. An adobe wall fourteen feet high connected all the buildings and enclosed the square.
The fur trading post operated until 1868. The post was purchased by the U.S. Government and first garrisoned on 11 Oct 1869. Fort Benton was located at the head of steam navigation on the Missouri River and was used to receive and forward freight to Fort Shaw and Fort Ellis. The post was abandoned by the U.S. Army 31 May 1881 and transferred to the Department of the Interior 5 Jan 1883.
The recreated fort features two blockhouse bastions, the Bourgeois Quarters, kitchen, barn, Trade Warehouse, Blacksmith and Carpenter shop, Engage's Quarters ruins, and a kitchen. The bastion closest to the river is reported to be original and the oldest building in Montana. The fort is enclosed by a replica adobe wall in Old Fort City Park.
Visited: 26 Sep 2013