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Taming the Wild West

By Linda Tancs

Charles E. Conrad played an impressive role in taming the Wild West. Together with his brother William, Charles established a shipping and freighting empire in Fort Benton, Montana Territory, that eventually became the most important transportation center in Montana with routes extending north into Canada and as far west as Walla Walla, Washington Territory. When the advent of the railroad hindered their progress, Charles founded the city of Kalispell, Montana, a tiny frontier town that proved hospitable for the construction of a dream home. The palatial Conrad residence is a 13,000 square foot, shingle-style home with a Norman period interior boasting 26 rooms and eight sandstone fireplaces. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Conrad Mansion Museum preserves and exhibits the Conrad family estate through docent-led public tours, educational programs and community events.

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