Newspaper Page Text
Vol. 1. Benton, M. T., May 1, 1875. · :o. e.
u~ni.. I IN•I •" l la lIm i I i i l l m I il _a ma .0, . .. THE FUTURE OF FORT BENTON It is thought by more than one prominent member of our community that when Montana has a railroad Fort Benton will cease to be of any material importance and will rapid ly decay. The natural inference of this theory is, that all who have any interest in the commercial pros perity of Benton should strenuously resist -every effort to bring the Territory into railroad communica tion with the rest of the civilized world. The thought is worthy of those days when the advancement of civilization was considered an injury rather than a blessing to mankind, or of the short-sighted ig norance of those communities of the mother country who saw nothing but starvation in the introduction and use of machinery Why Fort Benton should suffer from a railroad, we confess our in ability to understand. It is said that we shall lose our freighting business. But are we to infer from this that two or three hundred per sons are clustered here merely to pass ten months of each year await ing the two months activity created by the arrival of a few boats? that the simple unloading of a few tons of freight, to remain on the landing a day or so and then roll off in bull teams, constitutes the only reason of our existence?_ Hardly. It is the extensive fur trade centering here that makes of us a town. A trade radiating in all directions, and comprehending in its scope a larger tributary country than is possessed by any other town in the Territory. A railroad cannot take this from us. The commodities re quired by the fur-trade can still be furnished from Benton at lower rates than from any other point, a ad the accumulated peltries can also be shipped from here with least expense to the Eastern markets. It may be answered, however, that the fur-trade will eventually decline. Undoubtedly it will shrink in its proportions with the increase of white population in the fur-pro ducing regions, but as we interpose between those regions and the pro posed lines of railroad their trade must fall to us, no matter what class of customers they furnish. Already the settlers' cabins begin to dot the valleys around us, but do the firms engaged in the fur business com plain of this encroachment on the domains of their traffic? No. A material increase of business is the result. Our merchants have added to the staple articles of the Indian trade that constituted their former stock, the agricultural implements, the house furniture, the hundred notions that are demanded by the needs of civilized man. And this new trade has many advantages over the old. It is almost destitute of former risks, and is not depen dent upon the good will of a set. of fickle, corrupt officials, who give, withold, and revoke, at their own sovereign pleasure, the necessary permits totrade. To the fur trade we are indebted for our present prosperity. This trade can only decline with the increase of popu lation, aid with that increase a new and better trade will arise from the ruins of the one that disappears. New industries consequent upon the increase of population must al so spring up. Walk through the streets of our town and study the signs displayed to ascertain the range of our business, and how mea gre is the sho wing! How few of the many trades, the industries, the manifold pursuits deemed indispen sable in populous communities are we in possession of. Is it proba ble tjha.t when the Teton, Maria's, Shoukin, and Missouri valleys are filled up with an industrious, agri cultural and pastoral population, these varied industries will not be as necessary to themn as to similar communities elsewhere? or that be ing necessary, they will not find their natural location here? It is no idle dream to expect that such a population will be de pendent upon us at no distant day. During the past few summers. many settlers have located near us, and they are but the skirmish line of solid columns behind. Parties here are in receipt of frequent let ters of inquiry as to the advantages for settlement.in this part of Mon tana, and the facts warrant such favorable answers to thle questions propounded, that the disposition to cast lot with us cannot fail to be strengthened. Two colonies con template moving here at an early day, and when we consider that the movement has but just begun, the prospect is most encouraging. A short time ago there was not a farmer in our entire vicinity, and now we can count scores who make this place a point of trade. The adjacent valleys are capacious enough to afford homes for thous ands of souls, and even in Montana's present condition of comparative isolation, it requires no sanguine mind to imagine a fair percentage of these thousands tilling the soil of our valleys, and grazing their herds upon our magnificent prairie pastures, within the ensuing decade. Judging from all precedents, what would we not gain by a rail road even if our freighting business were temporarily injured by it? Consider the remarkable prosperity of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kan sas, Colorado, and Utah-all mod ern instances. Population once followed watercourses, now it fol lows railroads. The real wonder is not that Montana has so few resi dents, but that she has so many. But unless a miracle interposes, un less Montana is another paradise to which ia flaming sword forbids ac cess, a railroad will work for it its usual, wonders. , Population will pour by thousands into our broad regions of unredeemed beauty and fertility; our hamlets will become villages' our villages, cities;. and our uninhabited wilds, populous and thriving communities, with their teeniing acres of produce and grazing herds of cattle. In this g.ineral prosperity our immediate vicinity must of course participate. The first population sought the mines; the second influx will seek the grassy slopes and rich valleys adapted to agriculture and stock raising. To this class of settlers our country affords superior indi ce ments, and it is but reasonable to suppose that these inducements will not be undervalued. With such an increase of population the steam boat business must improve, for there are many parts of Montana to which the river route will offer superior facilities. In the future, as at present, the splashing wheels of our steamers will disturb the waters of the Upper Missouri, the smoke-stacks will as ever be seen creeping around the headlands, the shrill shriek of the steam-whistle will still echo over our hills and through our valleys, but fbr every boat that has grazed our landing in the past we shall witness a fleet. No. Railroad communication can not injure our town. The pros perity of Benton is dependent upon the general prosperity of Montana, and that prosperity can in no way be so eminently enhanced as by a railroad. Let us cherish enlight ened views of this subject. Let us, without fear, invest here our means and improve our town; and when ever an opportunity offers to lend material aid to any substantial pro ject of railroad communication, aid it gladly and eagerly, in full assur ance that we shall not only receive the blessings of future generations, but that we shall ourselves live to reap the mighty rewards of sowing in such fruitful soil this little meas ure of saving comnmol sense. TRUE TALES OF IYONTANA, BY CAVALIER. IV.--An Indian Hero and Heroine. About the last of April, in the year .1834, three Blood warriors and a squaw appeared at Fort Mc Kenzie, on their way to the Crow country to steal horses. Major Culbertson, then in charge of the fort, sought to persuade them from their design, and at last they con cluded to return to their own vii lage. Setting out after a few days stay at the fort, they sat down to rest and smcke at the Cracon-du nez, a few miles above the fort. It happened that a war-party of thirty mounted Crows were lurking in the neighborhood,who had placed them selves in ambush behind the bluff only a few rods from the halting place of the unsuspecting Bloods. Waiting until the latter were stretched upon the ground and pas sing the pipe from hand to hand, the Crows rose from their conceal ment and dashed snddenly upon them. Two of the Blood warriors were instantly killed, and the third was wounded, but not disabled. He sought to fly, but the Crows were upon him in a moment, and he found himself surrounded by the throng of his enemies. Then :followed a feat of arms worthy of Richard Cceur de Leon in his. best days. As the Crows crowded around him to compJete their work, with his gun he felled one from his saddle with a single blow, and sprang in to the empty seat. The shock of the blow had dashed his gun from his hands, but in its stead he had seized the lance of his victim, with which he opened a passage through the ranks of his foes, and sped away in the direction of the fort. For a moment his enemies watched him in amazement at the exploit, but soon recovered themselves and gave chase. It chanced, however, that the Blood hero, had possessed himself of the best horse of his as - sailants, a swift and beautiful ani mal, so that he easily outstripped his pursuers and arrived in safety at the fort. But the squaw, who was his sis ter, was left a prisoner in the hands of the Crows. The bodies of the two warriors were brought to the fort and buried, but no traces of the squaw were found, and it was evident that she had been carried into captivity. Several days after this event, Major Culbertson sat in front of the fort enjoying the cool ness of the evening. The Missouri river rolled along at his feet, and upon the opposite shore a steep bluff uprose from the water's edge, sloping away to the left until it ended in one of the little vales so numerous upon the upper Missouri. Presently he caught sight of a fig ure making its way carefully through the bushes that fringe the base of the cliff where it was diffi cult to find standing room. His curiosity was excited, and crossing in the skiff, he was amazed to see before him the identical squaw who had been carried off a prisoner by the Crows. She was in a sad plight, being entirely naked except the little protection afforded by bunch es of sage-brush tied about her per son, with feet lacerated by days of travel over stones and prickly pear, and was weak and emaciated from exposure, fatigue, and starvation. Her-story proved her as much a. heroine as her brother had shown himself a hero. After her capture, the Crows had traveled rapidly to ward their own country, guarding her with great vigilance. As an additional precaution, her clothling was taken from her every night, and she was compelled to sleep with a lynx-eyed old squzw, whom the slightest movement awakened. Though constantly watching an op portunity to escape, none offered until she was several days' journey in the country of her enemies. Here under cover of the darkness of a stormy night, and aided possibly by the relaxed vigilance of her cap tors, she was enabled to withdraw without discovery. Then followed five days of painful travel without food, in a state of nakedness, across scorching plains and over rugged mountains, reaching the fort just when her heroic spirit was unable longer to support her. She was at once clothed and fed, and speedily recovered from the effects of her painful experience. The new schoolhouse at Sun River is completed, and school will open on the lstinstant. New dwel ling houses are also going up, and the Sun River settlements rpiy assuming the proportions of a tOwn.