Phase II work on keelboat at Fort Benton will soon stop


September 13, 2023

Kirby Matthew worked as a preservationist for the Forest Service in the northwest. Now retired, he is serving as the consultant on the refurbishing of the "Mandan" keelboat in Fort Benton. Not only does he bring a lot of experience to the project but also a lot of specialized tools. Here he's pictured with part of the 'bow beam' from the "Mandan."

For the past two summers a dedicated group of volunteers has been meeting in Fort Benton for two week-long work sessions each summer. They are refurbishing the "Mandan," one of three keelboats built in the 1960's for the movie "Big Sky." Only one of the three boats has survived and it has been on the shore of the Missouri River in downtown Fort Benton for nearly sixty years. In 2024 it was hoped to have the old boat ship shape again and on display for its sixtieth anniversary at the spot.

The completion date will be pushed forward to at least until 2025. Workers on site this summer said th...

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