Filed Under Fort Benton

Fort Benton Engine House

The Fort Benton Engine House, built in 1883, and the Grand Union Hotel are two of only a few structures remaining to remind us of the rapid expansion here during the flourishing steamboat days. When Fort Benton incorporated in 1883, a volunteer fire department was organized and a contract let for $1,710 to build this engine house. By fall, the building was complete and thirty-five men organized into three companies of firemen were ready to drill—but the firefighting equipment wintered at Cow Island because the steamboat bringing it up the Missouri met low water at season’s end (not an uncommon situation). The gear was brought on to Fort Benton by ox wagon the following spring. This building served as City Hall for more than seventy-five years, until 1966, and from 1899 it housed the city jail. Its use today as a public meeting hall for service organizations recalls the past use as a center for social activities as well as for waiting firefighters.


Fort Benton Engine House
Fort Benton Engine House Fort Benton Engine House. Front to side view of the building, facing south on Front Street near the intersection of 15th Street and Front near the Fort Benton Bridge and the Missouri River to the east side (rear) of the building. Source: Montana State Historic Preservation Office Creator: Photographer unidentified Date: May 2015
Fort Benton Engine House
Fort Benton Engine House Fort Benton Engine House. Front view of the building, facing east to southeast on Front Street. Source: Overholser Historic Research Center, Fort Benton Tour; Fort Benton, MT Creator: Ken Robison Date: July 2020


Front and 15th Streets, Fort Benton, Montana | Public


The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Fort Benton Engine House,” Historic Montana, accessed April 15, 2024,