Alexander Culbertson established Fort Benton in 1846 as an American Fur Company trading post. The remote settlement prospered in the 1850s, but it wasn't until the following decade that it really boomed. The arrival of the steamboat Chippewa at the post in 1859 ushered in a new era of trade at the World's Innermost Port. The boat carried buffalo robes and other furs downriver to St. Louis; three years later, the cargo was much more valuable, gold from the rip-roaring mining camps in southwestern Montana. At it's height in 1867, 39 steamboats tied up at the levy (sic) depositing supplies and passengers destined for the gold fields. Saloons, hurdy-gurdy houses, and other businesses served a cosmopolitan and transient population. The streets crowded with people from all over North America, Europe, and Asia. It was truly a wide open town. By 1870, the boom had gone bust, but Fort Benton enjoyed a brief revival when the town's merchants began freighting supplies to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police forts north of the border over the famed Whoop-up Trail. Fort Benton is a National Historic Landmark because of its rich and colorful history on the upper Missouri River.