Grand Union Hotel

Built in 1882, an historic hotel in Fort Benton, Wyo., reminds visitors of the city's heyday.

The Grand Union Hotel in Fort Benton, Montana

The Grand Union Hotel, Montana's oldest, has been fully updated.

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No two of the handmade crimson bricks in Fort Benton's three-story Grand Union Hotel are exactly alike—but who's checking? More eye-catching are the custom hardwood furnishings and classic pedestal sinks in each of its 26 rooms, many with Missouri River views.

Built in 1882, when steamboats plied the Upper Missouri, the Grand Union coddled travelers to the rugged Montana Territory. When Montana became a state seven years later, newly laid railroad tracks bypassed Fort Benton, ending the hotel's brief reign as the finest place to eat and sleep between Chicago and Seattle.

Today, thanks to owners James and Cheryl Gagnon, guests again ascend the walnut staircase. The Grand Union, an hour east of Great Falls, is perhaps the most vivid vestige of the city's heyday as a trading hub for furs and buffalo robes. Visitors can stroll to Old Fort Benton, the Chouteau County Courthouse, and St. Paul's Episcopal Church, or spy deer or occasional eagles outside the hotel's restaurant. Winter brings a Thanksgiving buffet, holiday brunch, and two-person room-and-dinner packages ($140 to $210) starting November 1. Rooms from $95. (888) 838-1882, grandunionhotel.com.

Photography by Jane Osborne

This article was first published in November 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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