The Mullan Road-from Walla Walla to Fort Benton

In March 1859, Congress provided Mullan with $100,000 to build his road. The work began in June 1859 and was finished in August 1862.

The Mullan Road was a total of 624 miles.

  • 1st 180 miles--open prairie, level or rolling
  • 2nd 120 miles--densely wooded; mountain stream bottoms
  • 3rd 224 miles--open timbered plateau; long prairies
  • 4th 100 miles--level and rolling prairies

The Road went from Fort Walla Walla to Fort Benton in Montana. Mullan and his crew finished 200 miles in 6 weeks. Amazing! The road crew celebrated on July 4, 1861, by carving the date on a tree. That canyon is now called Fourth of July Canyon. The stump is still there to this day.

John Mullan had a crew of 250 men. The Romans gave him a good idea. He placed markers along the road called mile markers. The Mullan Road opened up the Northwest for the Army. Also settlers and miners used the road. The highway to Montana follows most of it today.

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Revised: December 7, 2003
Report completed 1997