Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grand Union Hotel

Fort Benton’s beautifully restored hotel, the Grand Union, once welcomed travelers to the Gateway of the Northwest, offering them a luxurious refuge before they set out for less civilized destinations. Its opening in 1882 came at the end of the steamboat era when Fort Benton was still an unchallenged hub. But the very next year, the Northern Pacific stretched across Montana, bypassing Fort Benton and ending its reign as the Chicago of the Plains.

Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives, 947-095

In its heyday, the Grand Union was the “Waldorf of the West.” It had a saloon, a grand dining room, a saddle room for cowboys to store their gear in winter, and a secret lookout room where guards could supervise gold shipments. A separate ladies’ stairway led to elegant parlors, since proper women never entered rooms adjoining saloons. Each bedroom had black walnut, marble-topped furnishings and its own woodstove and fancy chimney. From its vantage point near the docks, the Grand Union witnessed the arrival of everything from stamp mills to grand pianos brought by steamboat and transferred to freight wagons. The regal Grand Union reflects prosperity and optimism in a town unaware of the imminent coming of the railroad and the disastrous effects on its economy.

Have you ever stayed there?

From Montana Moments: History on the Go


  1. I never stayed there - but I did propose to my fiancee there during the KRTV Christmas party on a very cold, beautiful night several years ago!

  2. Stayed there a couple times in the past 10 years. Recommend the suite that overlooks Main Street.