Serving as the county seat of Chouteau County, Fort Benton is the oldest settlement in Montana. This town of 1,500 people was first established in 1846 by Alexander Culbertson. The original fort was the last fur trading post on the Upper Missouri River. For 30 years, the port attracted steamboats carrying goods, merchants, gold miners and settlers. Interestingly, Fort Benton served as the "World's Innermost Port" - the furthest point of navigable water on the Missouri River. Eventually, the fort was sold to the US Army, which named it after Senator Thomas Hart Benton. Now it is a great Montanan town with wonderful people!
From Fort Benton, just a one hour drive along US-87 N is the town of Havre. Havre, too, serves as the county seat for its county - Hill County. The town is nicknamed the crown jewel of the Hi-Line and is said to be named after the city of Le Havre in France. Oui, oui! The town was founded primarily as a railroad service center for the Great Northern Railway as it was the halfway mark between Seattle and Minneapolis-St. Paul. The town now serves as a medical and business center for the Hi-Line and has a population of nearly 10,000 people! Let's discover more of what Fort Benton and Havre have to offer.
The Missouri Breaks Interpretive Center is the one-stop-shop for everything regarding the history of the Missouri River. Located at 701 7th Street, the center interprets the wonder of the Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River and the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. The center features hands-on exhibits, special educational programs and a riverside walking trail! Adult fees are only $5 and children are free! They're open during the summer from May 1st through October 31st, so make sure to plan a trip next year!
Beneath the Streets is a historical underground tour that showcases Havre's history! A devastating fire in 1904 destroyed many buildings, causing business owners to move underground to carry on their business operations. In the tour, you get to see the Sporting Eagle Saloon, an opium den, a Chinese laundromat, an ethnic restaurant and a bordello. This tour is something else and we highly recommend you take it the next time you are in Havre. Tours are only available during the summer months, so plan accordingly.
Held in the latter part of June, Fort Benton's Summer Celebration is coined "Montana's Event of the Year." This small town festival is three days of fun and has been going for 43 years! The festival features various tours, a free pig roast, a rodeo, street dances, a parade, fireworks and much more! And we didn't even mention the Summer Celebration's Got Talent - a local and impressive talent show. There is so much to see and do, you surely don't want to miss next year's festival.
Started in 1980, Festival Days is the city's perfect conclusion to summer. The festival is held in late September every year and is a great way for anyone and everyone to enjoy all that Havre has to offer. This past festival, there was a 48-hour softball tournament, a quilt show, a pancake breakfast and, of course, a parade. Plan to attend this event next year; you'll be happy you did!
Located at 1 Grand Union Square, the Union Grille Restaurant is a delicious restaurant in Fort Benton! Here, you can enjoy a relaxing dining experience in a historic riverside western atmosphere. The restaurant features an innovative menu with seafood, meat, game, home-made pastas and vegetarian dishes. There even is a saloon that serves a wide range of Montana's best microbrews and wine. If you plan it right, you can sit outside, along the river, during the summer. Make sure to check out the Union Grille Restaurant; you'll be happy you did!
Murphy's Irish Pub is a hit in Havre! Located at Boothill Plaza, the restaurant is open starting at 11:00 a.m. each weekday. They have a range of menu options including some stellar nachos and a delicious steak sandwich. As an appetizer, try the Dublin Platter; it includes mozzarella sticks, mushrooms, onion rings and zucchini! Our mouths won't stop watering. Stop by Murphy's Irish Pub next time you're in Havre.
Being from and living in north central Montana in my opinion is awesome, with all of our friendly people, great recreation and history. I don’t think there is a place I would rather live.