In the mid-1870s, paddle boats could not always reach Fort Benton in the summer months after the level of the Missouri dropped. As a consequence, the trading post of Carroll was established 50+ miles downstream and became the starting point of the famous “Carroll Trail.” Freight unloaded at Carroll was then carried by wagon along the Carroll Trail to Helena and the western goldfields. One of the most famous stops along the trail was the Reed and Bowles Trading Post near modern day Lewistown, one of Yellowstone Kelly’s favorite hangouts.
The Reed and Bowles Trading Post was established in 1874 and Kelly was a frequent visitor. One of those visits was a particularly exciting incident in the autumn of 1875, when a Lakota war party fifty or so strong, swooped down and ran off with a small herd of ponies belonging to a party of Prairie Gros Ventres who were also staying there.