The Trail That Made Fort Benton Mercantile Owners Rich
Written by Suzanne Waring
The Whoop-Up Trail connected Fort Benton, Montana, to what is known today as southern Alberta. When asked, many will wonder aloud whether the Whoop-Up Trail had something to do with prohibition and the illegal transportation of alcohol. Prohibition occurred from 1920 to 1933. The Whoop-Up Trail was used much earlier—in the late 1800s—when trade goods were shipped north to Canada.
Because of the Gold Rush in Montana, modes of transportation from the East to Fort Benton had already been established before the Whoop-Up Trail was used for commerce. In the years between 1860 and 1890, goods came to St. Louis or to Sioux City, Iowa, via rail. They were shipped by steamboat up the Missouri River and dispersed to Bannack, Last Chance Gulch, and other settlements.
Text by Heather Bode | Photography by Jacqui Smith
Grab the Family & Get Outside!
Just 23 miles from the heart of Helena, and overlooking the former mining town of Marysville, the Great Divide ski area consists of ski-all terrain (thank you, beetle-kill) spread over 1600 acres. Kevin Taylor has owned Great Divide since 1985, but actual ownership of the slopes gets tricky. “This is mining country so it’s checkerboard ownership,” says Taylor. He owns most of the old Thomas Cruse mining claims and the remaining land is leased from various sources.
Ask anyone who frequents Great Divide to describe it and we guarantee you’ll hear the phrase “family friendly” come up again and again. Taylor says, “We’re family oriented. We have preschool programs, youth programs, terrain parks for teens, and we keep the price incredibly low.”
A personal story by Monica TaylorAs I sit here staring at the cutest bald-headed 5 month old in the universe (mine, of course), I ponder how life-changing the last 18 months has been for me. My journey to get here started in 2009 when I got married in June, pregnant in September and just so happy to be where I was in life. In November of that year, I experienced my first loss – I was pregnant with twins and I miscarried one. It was bittersweet. I hadn’t thought much about twins and although my heart hurt, my energy went to safely carrying baby number 2 (lovingly nicknamed Thor) to term. At 18 weeks gestation on January 22, 2010, my doctor couldn’t find a heartbeat – Thor had decided to join his brother as one of my angels. Ouch.
Bootlegger Casino: 608 Highway 200, Lincoln, MT
At the Bootlegger Casino and Restaurant, fine food and a family atmosphere are the top priority. Prime Rib Fridays are a sell-out, and it’s not unusual, owner Vicki Krause says, to fold over 1,000 tacos on “Taco Tuesdays.”
Open from 7 a.m. to around 10 p.m., this family business offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with drinks, games—and two popular summer ‘poker runs’. “We serve up a lot of Caesars and Bloody Marys,” Krause says, “and we have a game area for kids.”
If Krause is late for work, she’s got a great excuse: a nearby herd of 250 elk sometimes blocks Stemple Road.
Teresa G’s Flower Shop: 1702 Highway 200, Lincoln, MT
“All I know is how to buy and sell things,” Teresa Garland says with a smile. That’s not exactly true. Though running a successful business is in Teresa’s blood, she’s also blessed with a great sense of design, an energetic outlook, and a love for Lincoln, Montana.
Teresa G’s Flower Shop is an eclectic gift store that features local pottery and jewelry, huckleberry chocolates and even USGS topographical maps. Come spring, there are organic seeds and bedding plants along with hand-tied fishing flies.
“It’s a happy job,” says Teresa, who shares her building with her sister Becky, who owns a real estate and construction company, “People are always glad to get or give flowers.”