Lying on the banks of the Missouri River sits Fort Union Trading Post. It was at one time the most important trading post in the entire region for both Native Americans and settlers. The fort has been preserved and turned into a National Historic Site for future generations to experience life on the open prairie.
Fort Union once began in the late 1820s as a trading post along the Missouri River. Mr. Kenneth McKenzie created the site and turned it into a crucial stopping point for travelers and locals alike. When a demand for the fur trade was noticed from the wildlife in nearby lands of Montana and North Dakota, the post grew to become a trading post for such pelts and other materials. Oftentimes, local Native Americans would bring their own items for trade in exchange for some of the goods in the stores.
Many Native Americans made money from bringing their items for exchange that were valuable back east. A lot of their trades came to exchange pelts for firearms. It is reported that 25,000 Buffalo skins were brought to the store every year. At one time, Sitting Bull even visited Fort Union.
As the fur trade continued to grow, John Jacob Astor headed his American Fur Company out of Fort Union. It was a place for trappers and hunters to bring their pelts for cash. The pelts would later be sent back east and turned into blankets and clothing.
In the late 1860s, Fort Union was replaced by Fort Buford just a few miles away. The new location was much more strategic with its position on the Missouri River and Yellowstone River convergence.
Today, Fort Union has been restored by the National Park Service to how it would have looked in 1851.
If you enjoyed reading this post or have visited Fort Union before, leave a comment below or share this post on your favorite social media!