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Montana Forts of the Old West - Page 3

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Fort Hawley (1866) - A trading post established by Louis Rivet of the North West Company, it was named for A.F. Hawley, a partner in the company. It was established to trade with the River Crow Indians. It was located below Fort Benton on the south side of the Missouri River about 20 miles above the Mussleshell River. 

Fort Henry (1822-1823) - Named for Andrew Henry, this post stood at the junction of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. It was destroyed by Indians just a year after it was established.



Fort Howes (1897) - A rock walled redoubt on a hill above the Howes Ranch south of Ashland. It was built as civil defense against a threatened outbreak by the Cheyenne in 1897. It was comprised of 10' x 18' rock walls with a plank roof.



Fort Jackson (1833-1834) - A trading post established in December, 1833 by Francis A. Chardon near the mouth of the Poplar River, it was named for Andrew Jackson. It was 50' square structure. It was abandoned the very next year.



Fort Janeaux (1879-1883) - Also called Janeaux's Post, Fort Turnay, and Medicine Lodge, this trading post was established by Francis A. Janeaux, a licensed Metis Indian trader and later the founder of Lewistown, Montana. He and his wife, Virgjnia Laverdure Janeaux, established a homestead in the fall of 1879 on Big Spring Creek, and in partnership with the trading firm of Leighton Brothers, Janeaux built a substantial post. The trading post, which measured about 100 by 150 feet, was surrounded by a stockade with two bastions at diagonal corners. In the middle were several log cabins, one for he and his family, and the others reserved for clerks and interpreters. The post traded buffalo robes, furs, meat, and pemmican with traveling bands of Missouri River Indians and with about 100 families of the Red River Metis. No sooner had Janeaux established his trading post, when he found himself in direct competition with Alfonzo S. Reed and his Reed's Fort Settlement, which was situated just mile away. However, in the end Janeaux would win out. In 1882, he and his wife donated a plot of 40 acres to develop the townsite of Lewistown and the following year he sold his store. By 1884, a two story hotel was built facing the store, and before long livery stables and saloons surrounded his old trading post. Today, his post would have sat at what is the intersection of Third Avenue North and Broadway, right in the center of present day Lewiston, Montana.  


Fort Keogh, MontanaFort Keogh (1876-1908) - After Battle of the Little Bighorn , on June 25, 1876, General Nelson A. Miles was sent to the area of present-day Miles City, Montana with orders to establish a fort. Choosing a strategic site where the Yellowstone and Tongue Rivers met, Miles established the fort on July 22, 1876 and it was first known as Cantonment on Tongue River. At this time, it was called the Tongue River Cantonment. The fort was later moved to a site a mile west, and was renamed Fort Keogh in November, 1878, in honor of Captain Myles Keogh, an adjutant to General George Armstrong Custer, who was also killed in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The settlement that grew up around the fort was named for General Miles.


The fort included officer's quarters, enlisted barracks, multiple outbuildings and a diamond shaped parade ground. The fort's purpose was to continue to subdue the Indians, a task that was achieved by the early 1880s. By then most of the tribes had surrendered and were moved onto reservations.

In 1907, all troops were removed from the site and two years later Fort Keogh became a Remount Station and supplied thousands of horses for World War I. In 1924, the station was turned over to USDA, which continues to utilize the site to this day.


Of the some 100 buildings that stood at the fort in the late 1800's, only four survive, including officers' quarters and an brick structure that was used as a barn. The Range Riders' Museum is housed in one of the officer quarters buildings.


More Information:


Fort Keogh

243 Fort Keogh Road
Miles City, Montana 59301






Fort LaBarge (1862-1863) - This post was established by John and Joseph LaBarge, famous river pilots, along with James Harkness, who formed the LaBarge, Harkness & Company to compete with the American Fur Company. It was located just upriver from old Fort Campbell. Unfortunately, LaBarge, Harkness & Company went bankrupt in 1863 when the river was unusually low and they were unable to deliver the goods they had contracted. It was later purchased by the American Fur Company.



Fort Lewis - In January, 1845, Alexander Culbertson, an agent for the American Fur Company, established Fort Lewis on the Missouri River about 18 miles upstream from present-day Fort Benton to trade with the Blackfoot Indians. However, the tribe did not like the location, so a year later, Culbertson moved the post to a more accessible spot on the Missouri River. The log buildings were then dismantled and floated down stream to the new site. The new site also was called Fort Lewis, until it was changed to Fort Benton in 1860.



Fort Logan, MontanaFort Logan (1869-1880) - Located in Meagher County, Montana, the fort was first established by the U.S. Army on November 1, 1869 and called Camp Baker for  Major E.M. Baker of  Fort Ellis. Its objective was to the protect the Fort Benton to Helena freight road, as well as the area miners and settlers. The  provided troops for many of the campaigns in western Montana, including the Nez Perce War in 1877.


In 1878, the post was renamed Fort Logan in honor of Captain William Logan who was killed at the Battle of the Big Hole. The fort was abandoned in 1880. There are still remains of the fort including a deteriorating adobe storehouse, two officers' quarters building, and the blockhouse. The site is located in Meagher County, on an unimproved road, about 20 miles northwest of the town of White Sulphur Springs, Montana.



Fort MaginnisFort Maginnis (1880-1890) - Located on the east side of the Judith Mountains, the fort was established in 1880 by Captain Dangerfield Park to protect cattlemen from raiding Blackfoot and Sioux. It was named for Major Martin Maginnis, Montana's territorial delegate to congress. By 1885, the fort, under the command of James W. Forsyth, was responsible for monitoring the Crow, Cree, and the Gros Ventre Indians. The fort was abandoned April 10, 1890.Today there is only ruins left of this once sizable frontier post. Near the fort site, an old cemetery remains intact. The fort is located about 20 miles from Lewiston, Montana. Take Highway 87 west of Lewistown, turn left toward Gilt Edge and follow the signs.



Indians camped nearFort McKenzie, MontanaFort McKenzie (1832-1844) - The fort was established by the American Fur Company to trade with the Blackfoot Indians Missouri River near the Mouth of the Marias River, the fort was built by Kenneth McKenzie, a Missouri fur trader. In 1833, the fort was visited by Alexander Philip Maximilian, Prince of Wied-Neuwied, a noted German scientist and explorer. Staying for several months, he studied the local Indians and collected plant and and animal specimens. He was accompanied by Karl Bodmer, an artist who sketched and made paintings of the Indians and scenes in the surrounding countryside. In 1844, the fort was managed by a fur trader named Francis A. Chardon, who withdrew from the fort when hostilities with the Blackfoot were renewed. He soon established the short-lived post, Fort Chardon, opposite the mouth of the Judith River. This lasted one season when another party was sent from Fort Union to recover the Blackfoot trade and established a new post about three miles upriver from present-day Fort Benton. The site is located Missouri River, six miles above the mouth of the Marias River, near Loma, Montana





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