PMG Featured Note: $5 1875 Montana Territorial Fr#404, CH #2476
Fort Benton, Montana Territory, was the last port in the upper Missouri River at a time when the majority of the freight going to the Dakota and Montana territories was carried by river boats. After the Northern Pacific Railroad arrived in Bismarck, Dakota Territory, the river route got a lot shorter. The freight was unloaded from the trains and onto one of several river boat companies operating out of Bismarck, the largest of which was the Fort Benton Line.
Charles E. Conrad was a Montana Pioneer, banker and Missouri river trader. Conrad was also involved in the freight business which flourished in the 1880s for about a decade. At the same time, he served as vice president of the First National Bank of Fort Benton, Montana Territory. This rare $5 1875 Montana Territorial note features Conrad’s signature. As of February 2010, PMG has graded only one Montana Territory note from Fort Benton.
As you can imagine, running a river boat line from Bismarck, Dakota Territory to Fort Benton, Montana Territory was very risky. Some of the problems included low water, boiler fires and obstacles in the channel. The main problem was that the river was frozen for at least four months each winter. Shortly after the railroads extended into Montana, most of the river boat companies ceased to exist.