On June 14, 1869 nine sternwheelers moored along this bank, unloading whiskey, gold pans, salt, bacon, boot and miners. Ox teams hauled the freight to faraway points. Wells Fargo coaches took miners to Helena for $25, fights with the Blackfoot were free.
Six hundred mountain boats (since they came nearly to the Rockies) docked at Fort Benton from 1860 to 1890. Steamboats supplied the U.S. cavalry, the Indians they hunted, Canadian Mounties, and whiskey-runners. Benton merchants were plumb impartial about business. They purveyed their goods from posts at Fort Whoop-up, Qu'Appelle, Last Chance Gulch and other places with just ordinary names.
One spring before the first boat, tobacco sweepings were sold to eager residents at a buck a pipeful. On a fall day in '66 armed miners loaded a wagon full of gold dust onto the Luella that was bound for St. Louis.