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Fort Benton is a very pretty and historic town of around 1500 (down 7% since 2000 for some reason) located at the intersection of U. S. Highway 87 and Montana Highways 223 and 80 in Choteau County in North Central Montana. Lewis and Clark explored the area in 1805 and 1806. Fort Benton was settled in 1846 making it one of the oldest settlements in the old West (excluding Indian settlements, Spanish Missions, etc.), and is called the "Birthplace of Montana". In 1847, Auguste and Pierre Choteau, Jr. established a fur trading post here. The fort became a popular stop for steamboats plying the waters of the Missouri River from cities to the east. Fort Benton was also at one end of the 642 mile Mulan Road established by the U. S. Army in 1860. A multitude of miners, explorers, buffalo hunters, homesteaders and other traveled through Fort Benton. In 1865, the fort was put up for sale by the fur organization to the U. S. Armed force who named the fortress and the town after Thomas Hart Benton a Senator from Missouri. For some time, Fort Benton was the "World's Innermost Port".
The railroad took over for the steamboats for transporting goods and the importance of Fort Benton began to decline. Fort Benton is the county seat of Choteau County which was established in 1865 and was named for the fur trapper Pierre Choteau, Jr. The first Choteau County Courthouse was built in 1873 but burned down in 1883. The current courthouse, which is quite beautiful, was completed on 4 July 1884 and is the 2nd oldest courthouse in Montana still in use.
Fort Benton has a great historic district with many buildings of historic and/or architectural interest. There are 10 individual locations in Fort Benton listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Fort Benton Historic District has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
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|Month||Temp °C||Rainfall Cm||Temp °F||Rainfall Inches|
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