Fort Assinniboine

According to the United States War Department, Fort Assinniboine was established in 1879 “for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Montana from the hostile incursions of Indian tribes dwelling in that region; and especially … the Sioux which had withdrawn across the international boundary line after its victory over the United States troops in the Yellowstone country in 1876.” The first buildings were built so quickly that local Indian people said they “rose magically out of the ground.” Eventually more than 100 buildings cost in excess of a million dollars on the 220,000-acre military reserve. Fort architecture ranged from typical nineteenth century military utilitarian designs to elegant fortress styling. Garrisoned troops were to monitor the Blackfeet Nation, Gros Ventre, Assiniboine, Sioux (Lakota), Cree, and Métis; deter raiding parties; and guard wagon trains. Soldiers drilled on the parade ground, patrolled the prairies, made brick, and constructed fort buildings. These troops, however, never saw major action. Fort Assinniboine could accommodate 746 enlisted men and officers, but there were seldom more than 500. Later on, the fort housed some of the famous African-American “buffalo soldiers” of the Tenth Cavalry. Abandonment of the post by 1911 influenced the subsequent history of northern Montana; demolished buildings provided the brick for construction of Pershing Hall at Northern Montana College; 58,000 acres of fort land became part of Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation; and another portion became an experimental station for Montana State Agricultural College. Most of the land was opened to homesteading and the Beaver Creek area, first designated a federal park, became part of the largest county park in the United States.


Fort Assinnaboine, Montana from the east

Fort Assinnaboine, Montana from the east

"Fort Assinnaboine [sic], Montana from the east" [Fort Assiniboine] Summer, 1880 Catalog # H-378 | Source: Haynes Foundation Collection, Montana Historical Society Research Center Photograph Archives, Helena, Montana | Creator: F. Jay Haynes View File Details Page

Post map, Fort Assiniboine

Post map, Fort Assiniboine

Date of situation 1889. Shows area from the Cypress Hills in Canada south to Fort Benton, and from St. Marys Lake east to Malta.; relief indicated by hachures.; Panel title: Fort Assinniboine, Montana, post map and supplement.; Includes legend, list of authorities used, and notations on topography, water, wood, minerals, and coal.; On verso: Table of distances and notes on timber, fuel, and roads. | Source: Montana Historical Society Research Center Map collection, digitized copy is available on the Montana Memory Project | Creator: Hill, R.G. (Rowland Gardner) View File Details Page

Access Information:


Street Address:

Highway 87, Havre, Montana [map]

Cite this Page:

The Montana National Register Sign Program, “Fort Assinniboine,” Explore Big – Montana's Historic Places, accessed July 24, 2017,

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