Fort Owen Historical Marker

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Stevensville 59870,Southwest Montana

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Historical Markers/Interpretive SignLewis and Clark Expedition
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General info

Between 1831 and 1840 the Flathead Indians sent out three delegations, with St. Louis as their objective, to petition that “Black Robes” be sent to teach them. As a result Father De Smet, a Catholic missionary; estab- lished the original St. Mary’s Mission here in 1841. He and his assistants hewed logs and built a dwelling, car- penter and blacksmith shops, and a chapel. They drove in the first oxen with wagons, carts, and plows that year and in 1842 brought cows from Colville, Washington, and raised a crop of wheat and garden produce, probably the first in Montana. In 1843, assisted by Father Ravalli and others, he built the first grist mill. The stones were brought from Antwerp, Belgium, via the Columbia River. The Mission was sold to Major John Owen in 1850. On its site he built a trading post and fort, the north wall of which stands. The Major was a genial and convivial host when travelers came that way, and for many years Fort Owen was an important trading center for whites as well as Indians.

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