We start our day on the KOA nature walk. It has been too hot in the afternoon to walk very far.
We scare a hen pheasant. The Montana views are great. We see a lone animal running across the field. It is fast. We think it is an antelope. It turns and runs back to its herd. I guess it was out for its morning exercise just like us.
We take a short day trip today. We travel forty-five minutes to Fort Benton. We stop at a scenic overlook before entering town. We are on the Missouri River.
The levee at Fort Benton launched its first recorded white visitor in 1806 when Captain Lewis, who was beating a hasty retreat from the Blackfoot, boarded his canoe and hurried downstream. The American Fur Company established Fort Benton in 1846. Mackinaws were built here for a one-way trip down the Missouri to St. Louis, loaded with robes.
The steamboat arrived in 1860 and gold was discovered in 1862. Fort Benton became the world’s innermost port. The coming of the railroad ended the need for the port.
We visit the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. The Monument covers 375,000 acres of public land. The 149 mile Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River flows through it. Fort Benton is at the western gateway to the monument.
Lewis and Clark described the white cliffs seen on a stretch of the Missouri River that runs through the monument. Visiting the monument would require at least a three-day float trip.
At the Interpretive Center, we learn about the steamboats that came up the Missouri River. The river is shallow. Poles were put down and the paddlewheel would push the front end up and over the shoals. The boats were compared to grasshoppers.
We walk the levee. There is much signage. We see the Grand Union Hotel. It opened for business in 1882. It was known for its elegance.
We walk onto a Walking Bridge that was the first bridge to span the Missouri River. We have a view of the Gateway to Upper Missouri River National Monument.
Fort Benton is a nice small town with a great deal of history. There are museums we do not visit because it is Sunday. They do not open until 12:00. It is a relaxing day. Tomorrow, we relocate to Billings, MT. We are headed east!
Campground: Great Falls KOA