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2010Tourism Marketing for Fort BentonGinger Singer Montana Tech The University of Montana 11/15/2010Fort Benton To understand the economy of Fort Benton I will first explain how the town began and business booms that have happened throughout the years. Fort Benton is the birthplace of Montana and has struggled with economic changes. However, this small town found a niche in tourism marketing. To understand the benefits that tourism can offer a small town, it is important to understand how

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2010Tourism Marketing for Fort Benton

Ginger Singer Montana Tech The University of Montana 11/15/2010

Fort Benton To understand the economy of Fort Benton I will first explain how the town began and business booms that have happened throughout the years. Fort Benton is the birthplace of Montana and has struggled with economic changes. However, this small town found a niche in tourism marketing. To understand the benefits that tourism can offer a small town, it is important to understand how tourism marketing works and how to correctly advertise to tourists. Through my research I will explain the tourism industry and tourism marketing. I will explain how to use effective advertising along with describing how to create a logo design and other forms of media.

Alexander Culbertson, a principle trader in the American Fur Company constructed a wooden fort along the Missouri River. The fort was originally named Fort Henry then renamed Fort Lewis by the Corps of Discovery. After the forts construction was finished, Malcolm Clarke was left in charge. It wasnt until winter swept over the land that Malcolm Clarke and Alexander Culbertson realized that the location of the fort would not be ideal because of ice jams and floating ice. It was suggested to Culbertson that they relocate the fort downriver three miles on the north side of the bank. Fort Lewis was taken apart and floated down the river (Lepley, 1999; Doerk 2010).

By spring of 1847, Fort Benton was formed. However, it wasnt named Fort Benton until 1850. Culberson named the fort after Thomas Hart Benton. Benton saved the American Fur Company from loosing its license after a dispute with the Federal government about trading whiskey with the Indians (Lepley, 1999). Fort Benton was important to travelers,

traders, settlers, and gold seekers. It was the premier trading post in Blackfoot country (Doerk, 2010).

The last steamboat came in 1922. The reason steamboats were seen less and less was due to trains. Trains became faster and more efficient, and eliminated the need for steamboats. Unfortunately, steamboats were not the only demise for the popularity of Fort Benton. Fur trading became less common until 1865 (Lepley, 1999).

The original structure of the fort was made out of logs. After Alexander Culbertson visited Fort Laramie he suggested that Fort Benton be built out of adobe, similar to Fort Laramie. It was thought that adobe would hold up better in Montana weather conditions than logs. Unfortunately the adobe structure did not hold up as well as was anticipated. Although the fort deteriorated, one corner of the fort still stands today. It is located in the towns park and is one of the oldest buildings in Montana. Since then to the present day, construction has started to rebuild the fort in order to remember the history of the town. Recently the fort has been reconstructed and is now one of the leading tourist attractions in Fort Benton (Doerk, 2010).

Changing economy At the turn of the century, Fort Benton saw a boost in the population and several new jobs. Ranches and homesteads began to spread through the prairie that surrounded Fort Benton. Fort Benton is surrounded by countryside, which made it ideal for ranching.

The cattle population around town kept rising that cause a demand for cattlemen. Cattle, helped save Fort Benton from its declining economy and population (Lepley, 1999).

Farming Economy Boost Mining had swept the state and the western half of the county for that matter. Mining may have made the country aware of what Montana had to offer, however, it was homesteading that brought people and kept their interest (Lepley).

The Enlarged Homestead Act was passed by congress in 1909. The act gave 320 acres of land to be farmed for three years then the farmer could claim it as their own. This act did not segregate to genders. Woman we allowed to claim land also. A man and a woman would be able to double their land by getting married (Lepley).

Chouteau County was in the center of all this, and the land surrounding filled with crops. Prior to the Homestead Act there were only a couple hundred people living in Fort Benton. After the fact the population grew to a couple thousand. The ancestors of many of the familys that farm today were the people that originally homesteaded the land (Lepley, 1999).

Farming turned out to be good for the state, probably better then they had imagined or the rest of the country. The well-known unpredictable weather became stable. It rained when the farmers needed and stopped when it was harvest time. The weather was so beneficial that more and more people traveled to Montana to start farming. World War I

brought an increase in the price of wheat. There was so much grain that came through Choteau County that it took days to even drop of a load at the grain elevator (Lepley, 1999).

Unfortunately Montanas weather could only be predictable for so long. By the time the United States entered the war farmland started drying up. The Federal government believed that the prices of wheat would increase when the country entered into the war. Farmers bought more land to take advantage of the prices. Unfortunately the war brought prices down and the farmers that borrowed money for more land we now surrounded by dept (Lepley, 1999).

Devastation from the Great War hit all over the country. Choteau County had the highest death rate in the Great War for Montana. The war finally ended, however, conditions still were not looking up the Fort Bentons farming community. The weather remained dry. In 1919, the weather reached the driest it had ever been since the Homestead Act (Lepley, 1999).

Almost five years later the weather became more ideal for farming. The hot summer days cooled down a couple of degrees. The rain came back to the plains. Unfortunately, the grasshoppers also enjoyed this good fortune in weather. The crops grew more plentiful and the grasshoppers took advantage of this. The crops became infested with grasshoppers causing grain to be worth less. It wasnt until 1928 when crops and the

economy started to turn around. Chouteau County became the primary producer of wheat in Montana. To this day Chouteau County still owns this title (Lepley, 1999).

The second Great War hit the country and took the economy with it. Weather conditions remained beneficial, however, the price of crops declined so much that farmers had to store their crops to sell later when prices started to rise again. Several farmers stored their harvested crops for so long that they began to rot then they were unable to sell. From then on there were consistent ups and downs in crop production and the wheat market (Lepley, 1999).

From this research Fort Benton has seen many shifts in business opportunities throughout the years. The larger towns in Montana see more economic growth than smaller towns so it is necessary for those smaller towns to find a way to keep current jobs and create new ones. Because Fort Benton is so rich in history it only seemed necessary for the town to capitalize on the tourism market.

It is important to understand the history of the economy of Fort Benton to understand present day conditions. Advertising for tourism in small towns in Montana include historical events, people, and landmarks. Also to market tourism it is important to determine the audience. Typically tourists looking to visit Fort Benton are interested in the fort and historical stories that took place in the town. To understand Fort Bentons culture it is important to understand the history and economic trends.

Fort Benton Today Fort Benton is currently home to 1,594 people. The town reached its peak population in the 1970s; however, it has roughly maintained its size since then. Currently, the town is made up of an older community. The mean age is 43 years of age. Fort Benton is known as a retirement community and many people around the state mention that they wish to retire in Fort Benton. 97% of the people in Fort Benton are Caucasian. There are a few other races, however, that make up less than 3% of the population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).

Businesses in Fort Benton have come a long way from trading furs and beads. Farming is still one of the leading businesses across the county. Cattle ranching are also important among the economy. Fort Benton may not be big enough to have a movie theater or a mall, but there are several businesses that are essential to the community. The grocery store, gas stations, car lots, and restaurants prosper in the community. There are several small businesses that are locally owned that bring in commerce to the town (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000).

Tourism is a large part of Fort Bentons success. Every year durring the month of June, Fort Benton puts on a festival called Summer Celebration. Summer Celebration is important to the town because it brings in the most tourism.

Tourism Industry Tourism, all around the world has grown to considerable importance (Crampon, 1955). Tourism contributes to economic development and has potential in providing social benefits by contributing to cultural enhancements (Bushell, Prosser, Faulkner, & Jafari, 2001). Traveling is a social practice for people to meet and see other places (Coultard, 2008). A tourist is usually defined as someone who is traveling for pleasure. However, it is possible for recreation and business to be combined (Crampon, 1955).

One of Fort Bentons most notable tourist attractions is Summer Celebration. This weekend allows visitors to learn the towns history, partake in cultural events, and buy and sell merchandise. Every year Summer Celebration is host to Art in the Park. Art in the Park allows in-state and out-of-state residence to sell crafts and merchandise. The Summer Celebration c