Fort Janeaux, Montana

Upper Missouri River Breaks by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management

Upper Missouri River Breaks by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management

Fort Janeaux, Montana, also called Janeaux’s Post, Fort Turnay, and Medicine Lodge, was established by Francis A. Janeaux, a licensed Metis Indian trader and later the founder of Lewistown, Montana.

He and his wife, Virginia 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. There were several log cabins in the middle, one for him and his family, and the others were 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 a half-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 the intersection of Third Avenue North and Broadway, right in the center of present-day Lewiston, Montana.

By Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated February 2022.

Also See:

Forts Across America

Forts Photo Gallery

Montana Forts

Montana – Big Sky Country