Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
John Mullan, after successfully leading a survey party on the Stevens Pacific Railroad Survey, pressed for and received funding for a military road to cross the northern Rockies from Fort Benton to Fort Walla Walla (Figure 18). Construction began in 1859 and was completed in 1860. The Blake Expedition was a military party of about 250 men under the command of Major G.M. Blake with orders to test the feasibility of moving a large military unit to the West Coast, crossing the interior of North America by following the Missouri River and the Mullan Military Road. Up to this point, troops had been moved by boat, transferring between Oceans in Panama. Attached to this military expedition as surgeon/naturalist was Dr. James G. Cooper. The expedition set a slow pace and took nearly two months to cross Montana (one month was spent at Fort Benton). During this period, Cooper took advantage of the time to collect bird and mammal specimens and record natural history information. This information was published as a series of articles in the American Naturalist eight years later.
Cooper, J.G. 1868-69. The fauna of Montana Territory. Amer. Nat. 2:528-538, 596-600, 3:73-84, 294-299, 405-422. Cooper, J.G. 1869. Notes on the fauna of the upper Missouri. Amer. Nat. 3:294-299. Cooper, J.G. 1869. The sylva of Montana. Amer. Nat. 3:405-422. Mullan, J. 1861. Report of Lieutenant Mullan, in charge of the construction of the military road from Fort Benton to Fort Walla Walla. 36th Congress, 2 Sess., House Executive Document 44. U.S. Govt. Print. Off., Washington, DC. Mullan, J. 1863. Report on the construction of a military road from Ft. Walla Walla to Ft. Benton. U.S. Govt. Print. Off. Washington, DC. Mullan, J. 1863. Report of a reconnaissance from the Coeur d'Alene Mission to Thompsons's prairie....thence across the mountain to the Bitter Root River...and over the high divide to the Ten-Mile prairie, of the Couer d'Alene River. Report on the Construction of a Military Road From Fort Walla-Walla to Fort Benton. by Cap. John Mullan. Washington, DC. Mullan, J. 1865. Miners' and Travelers' guide to Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado via the Missouri and Columbia Rivers accompanied by a general map of the mineral regions of the northern sections of the Rocky Mountains. Wm. M. Franklin, New York.