Bozeman History

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Fort Ellis…by Trevor


Fort Ellis was established in 1867 by Captain R. S. LaMotte and the US Army.  Fort Ellis was made to protect miners and white settlers from aggressive Indians.  The fort was made up of multiple buildings surrounded by a fence, with two or three openings.  The buildings lining the inside perimeter of the fence, were likely used to house infantry (soldiers on foot) and cavalry (soldiers on horses) and their leaders.  They would also have some buildings for eating and for storage of supplies and ammunition.  The fence was for keeping out Indians who might terrorize the camp.  Besides handling Indian problems, the soldiers also would be military escorts for expeditions going through what is now called Yellowstone National Park.

Fort Ellis was about 3.5 miles east of Bozeman.  It seems the people of Bozeman felt that it was good and bad that the fort was there.  For example, some people might think it was good because one of the reasons it was there was to protect the Gallatin Valley, so it made them feel safer.  But some of them would think it was bad because they would feel like they could be living on that land or farming on it.  In fact, one of the main reasons the fort shut down in 1886 was because the people were saying that they should be farming on that land.  Also, some people were making money off of the soldiers stationed there by selling them alcohol and other things.  Then later on, some of the leaders from Fort Ellis had some soldiers go and destroy those buildings because they didn’t want the people selling their soldiers alcohol.  Luckily the buildings were on the outer edge of Bozeman.

When the fort was shut down in 1886, the United States honored the fort by putting a marker (a stone on a platform with writing on it), which said the history of the fort where is used to be.  There is nothing left of it except for the marker, which you can find along the I-90 frontage road just 3.5 miles east of Bozeman.  I would suggest that you go and see for yourself a piece of history from Fort Ellis.  In fact, if you look closely, you might even be able to still see some bullet casings or other small artifacts that were left behind!


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