Opened to the public Nov. 1, 1882 the Grand Union Hotel was Fort Benton's pride, a haven of relaxation in a boisterous frontier town at the head of navigation on the Missouri. Total cost of the finest hostelry between Seattle and the Twin Cities was $200,000. The name echoes the reconciliation following the great Civil War in which many guests participated, wearing blue or gray.
Steamboats blew for their landings and great cattle herds crossed the Missouri within sight and sound of its patrons. Army officers, Canadian Mounties, miners, trappers, freighters, river captains, stockmen, missionaries, Indian agents and road agents rubbed shoulders in the Grand Union's lobby, supped in its spacious dining room and adjourned to its well-stocked bar for the relaxation due a frontiersman at a weary journey'd end.