Montana Forts of the Old West - Page 7
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Fort Van Buren (1835-1842) -
Established 1835 by Samuel Tulloch for the
Company, it was
named for President Martin Van Buren. Built on the right bank of the
Yellowstone River near the mouth of the Tongue River, it operated for
several years before Charles Larpenteur burned the post in 1842 before
Fort Alexander. It was thought to have been located near Rosebud,
(1833-1836) (1858-1866) - Established in August, 1833 by William Sublette and
Robert Campbell, this trading post was located at the mouth of the
Yellowstone River about 2.4 miles east of Fort Union, North Dakota. In April, 1834, the men sold the site to the
Company and abandoned the location. The new company kept the trading post in
operation until 1836, when they closed it. The site then became a
storage depot and livestock pen for Fort Union until demolished in the
1840's. In 1842, the Union Fur Company, a competitor of the American Fur
Company, built another trading post about one-half mile east of the
remains of Fort William. The new trading post, called Fort Mortimer,
operated until 1846, when it was bought out by the American Fur Company.
Years later, the American Fur Company would establish a second Fort
William at the site of the former Fort Mortimer in 1858. Built of adobe,
the fort operated until 1866. It was then dismantled and the salvaged
material utilized to build
- A recreation area located between Winifred and Big Sandy,
this place has a long history of early exploration.
It was placed on the National Register of Historic
Places as a Historic District in 1975. Among the many events identified
within this Historic District are a Corps of Discovery campsite, May 28,
1805; Fort Chardon Trading Post, 1844-1845; Isaac Stevens 1855 Lame Bull
Treaty; Camp Cooke (first military post in Montana), 1866-1870; PN Cable
Ferry, 1880-1908. On the south side of the river at Judith Landing, the
entire river bottom was once part of a large, open-range cattle spread
founded by T.C. Power, merchant prince of
Fort Benton, and John Norris,
who managed the ranch for the company. Today, the recreation area provides
a campground and is a common take-out point for many boaters along the Missouri
Kootenai Post (1808-1811)
- This trading post was established in 1908 for the
North West Company near
Libby, Montana. Ti was relocated upstream three years later, near
Clark Fort (1810) - Also referred to as Three Forks Post,
this short lived trading post was established in April, 1810 by Andrew Henry and Pierre Menard.
Guided to the Three Forks of the Missouri
Riverby John Colter, it was
located between the Madison and Jefferson Rivers. The post was
surrounded by a 200' square stockade. It was abandoned in the fall of 1810 because of
Indian harassment. The site was first mentioned as a possible site of a fort
by Lewis and Clark in their journals.
and Bowles Trading Post
(1873-1880) - This trading post was established by Alonzo S. Reed and
John Bowles to capitalize on the trade along the old Carroll Road
between Helena and Crow Island at the mouth of the Musselshell River.
Reed, who had earlier served four short months as an
Indian agent at the Milk River Agency in 1870, went by
the title of "Major," though it is doubtful he ever served in any true
military capacity. While serving his brief time as an Indian agent, he was
dismissed for misconduct which included trafficking in alcohol and
firearms, stealing agency property, including cattle, falsifying sales
receipts, and trading agency items to the Indians for furs. He was also
accused of killing an Assiniboine Indian. Though he was dismissed; he was
not charged with any criminal activities, though, clearly he
was involved with them. Later, when he and John Bowles opened
their trading post, which was often referred to as the Reed
and Bowles Trading Post, the pair acted no better.
Having a reputation of readily accepting gunfire as the
accepted method of ending any arguments, they quickly gained a rough
reputation throughout the territory. However, as the only post situated
between Martinsdale and Carroll, a distance of around 150 miles,
travelers, traders and hunters had little other choice when needing
supplies. During this time, the post's main
business consisted of trading with Indians, chiefly in
low grade liquor. Although selling liquor to the Indians was outlawed by the Federal government, the post was
about 100 miles beyond the reach of any law authority, and the two men
happily continued on with their profitable trade. In 1880, when numerous
people began to settle in what would later become Lewistown, Reed took up
new land and established another trading post nearer to the population.
Soon, there were
"settlements," one which Reed called Reedsfort, and
another trading post just
mile away called Fort Janeaux, operated by Francis Janeaux, a popular
trader with the Metis people who had settled the area. Within no time
Janeaux and Reed became intense rivals for the
trade of area residents, which numbered less than 100. Reed established
the first post office in 1881, which was officially called "Reedsfort."
However, one area resident named Dr. L. A.
Lapalme, who was a a friend of Janeaux's and disgruntled with the mail
service began to circulate a petition for a new post office.
Charging Reed "with gross neglect of his duties and
some irregularities," it was known the Reed's parner, John Bowles, would
simply put all the mail in a box that was placed on the floor in the
corner of a room. When residents came into to get their mail, they were
forced to sort through all the mail to find their own. One local resident
named David Hilger would late say that "Reed was one angry postmaster when
he read those charges!" Hilger would also say that Reed had confronted him
when he found out that Hilger had signed the petition and Hilger
"immediately envisioned a new mound in Major Reed's private cemetery."
After some fast talking, Hilger finally convinced Reed that he had not
read the petition that he had signed and Reed let him go unharmed. The
post office also served a wide area surrounded by
Fort Maginnis, Judith Gapo and Philbrook. During the
winter of 1881-1882, the mail was only delivered three times.
Either Lapalme's petition worked or Reed finally gave up, as he sold his
holdings to Frank Day in 1882, who became the new postmaster. The
following year, the post office name was changed to Lewistown. By 1890,
the building was included in the county poor farm property. The old post
office/trading post was saved by Lewistown residents and today
continues to stand in a park in Lewistown.
Saleesh House (1809-1824) -
Established in 1809 by David Thompson for the
North West Company, this trading post was located two miles east of
Thompson Falls, on the Clarks Fork River just below its
junction with the Thompson River. In 1824 it was moved to a
site near Eddy, Montana,
was renamed Flathead Post, and was operated by james McMillan
and Ross Cox.
of America, updated January, 2011.
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