Montana Historical Society

Big Sky ~ Big History

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A Voyage to Montana: Serena Washburn's Account of Her Trip up the Missouri River in 1869, Part 1

By Aubrey L. Haines

Download and read the article in PDF format.


Reasons for leaving "home" in the East to move West.

Women's and men's points of view toward the West- How did they differ?


1)    Why did people in the West yearn for the railroad to come to their town?

2)    Why was travel on the Missouri River so risky?

3)    What two commercial routes were used to get to the Montana territory? Describe both in detail.

4)    What was the first steamboat on the Missouri? How long was the journey and when was it?

5)    Why was Fort Union the stopping point in the early 1880s?

6)    What was the advantage of a "stern" wheel steamship?

7)    What event made the difficult voyage up river from Fort Union more popular? What year? Why?

8)    What is the "window of opportunity" that the author refers to?

9)    What were the causes for the decrease in boat landings at Fort Benton in 1867?

10)    Why might reminiscences be unreliable sources of first hand information?

11)    Why were the Washburns moving to Montana and what was to be the nature of Henry Washburn's position?


-    Write a reminiscence of an event that happened 5-10 years ago in your life.