For many years there was no direct route between Helena and Great Falls other than the railroad and the lengthy and treacherous old Benton wagon road. During the Great Depression, the Montana Highway Department built thousands of miles of good paved road in the state, often in places where no road had existed before. A direct highway between Helena and Great Falls posed an enormous challenge to the engineers who designed it, as it would pass through two rugged canyons and require two major bridges over the Missouri River.
Over the course of three years beginning in 1930, work crews dynamited, carved, graded, and paved a road through both canyons. The road north of here was built by Morrison-Knudsen Company, which would also build part of the Beartooth Highway in south central Montana. Billings contractor Bill Roscoe built the steel bridge over the Missouri River near this marker in 1933. The innovative design of the bridge became the model for steel bridges built throughout Montana in the 1930s and 1940s When the highway opened to traffic in 1933, it truly gave the appearance of being "draped over the landscape". Today, the old road provides a scenic and historic alternative to Interstate 15.