Fort Owen State Park is home to the oldest building that established the first permanent white settlement in Montana. Purchased from Jesuit missionaries in 1850, John Owen established and operated a trading post here for 20 years.
Friends of Fort Owen works with Montana State Parks to preserve, interpret, and manage Fort Owen State Park. We welcome new members and donations to help us pass this significant historic site on to future generations.
Make a difference and help preserve the history of our commnuity!
Plan Your Visit
Fort Owen State Park is a small day-use park, open from 9AM to 6PM. You will find restored buildings, exhibits, interpretive signs, a picnic table, and restrooms on-site. Special programs or tours are planned throughout the summer. Check the Event Calendar.
Come and spend an hour or two and have a picnic lunch while learning about the fort and Montana’s early history.
Please be respectful of the private property that surrounds this small park.
Site of Montana “Firsts”
The earliest known picture of Fort Owen, showing the structure in its first form, with its outer walls consisting of high timber palisades. Within the walls are three buildings, from the largest of which floats a flag.
Outside the palisade are several smaller buildings. Drawn on the spot by Stanley, the topographer of the Exploring Expedition led by Isaac Stevens, which visited the Fort in 1854.
Source: The Journals and Letters of Major John Owen 1850-1870 by Dunbar and Phillips.
Fort Owen offers visitors the opportunity to discover a mid-1800’s trading post that influenced the relationships between settlers and indigenous cultures. Located in the Bitterroot Valley, which is a cherished part of the homelands of our indigenous nations, the Séliš and Qli̓spé. After missionaries temporarily closed St. Mary’s Mission, John Owen, a trader, arrived in the Bitterroot Valley. After his arrival in November 1850, John Owen signed a contract of sale with the Jesuits to maintain the St. Mary’s mission area, where if they did not return, he would own the property.
Owen transformed the mission into a Trading Post that he called Fort Owen. The trading post would be a community gathering place of trade between the white settlers, immigrants, and Salish and Nez Perce people. Remains of the east barracks, a well house, and period structures offer a glimpse back in time. Considerable maintenance and preservation work is needed to maintain the current structures.
Become a member or volunteer. Help preserve Montana history
So much of our future lies in preserving our past.Peter Westbrook
Come see Montana history at Fort Owen!
99 Fort Owen Ranch Rd,
Stevensville, MT 59870
Phone: (406) 552-2072