The life of Charles E. Conrad and the history of Fort Benton, Montana Territory, are so intertwined that the story of one cannot be told independently of the other. At the time Conrad came to Fort Benton, the tiny settlement was in its infancy. Charles Conrad and his brother William soon developed the most extensive merchandising and supply transportation system in all the west.
As river transportation died out with the coming of the railroad, Conrad moved from Fort Benton to Kalispell. It took him 34 years to build his fortune and his empire, yet in less than 20 years it was gone.