Object Record

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Catalog Number X1940.03.02
Title PRICKLY PEAR CANYON, KING AND GILLETTE TOLL ROAD #2
Object Name Painting
Artist Tofft, Peter (1825-1901)
Dimensions H-15 W-21.25 inches
Medium Watercolor/Gouache/Paperboard
Date ca. 1866
Notes Depiction of a covered freight wagon being pulled by a team of six oxen over a wooden bridge. A bullwhacker walks beside the oxen. The road curves around a bend on the left side of the image. On the right side of the image there are large rocks and trees in the foreground and rocky cliffs in the background.

In 1865, the Territorial Legislature granted a license to the Little Prickly Pear Wagon Road Company to build a toll road through the Prickly Pear canyon. A year later, in 1866, Helena merchants James King and Warren Gillette bought the road and spent $40,000 upgrading it. By then traffic between Fort Benton and Helena had become so heavy, that the men were able to recoup their expenditure within two years. By the early 1870s, it was part of the Benton Road, an important freight and passenger route in the territory.

In 1842, at 17 years old, Tofft left Denmark on a whaling ship. After serving the with U.S. in the Mexican-American War, Tofft joined the gold seekers in California in 1849. For the next 15 years he ventured up and down the west coast (including British Columbia) in various pursuits. Tofft arrived in Western Montana in the fall of 1865, visiting such places as St. Ignatius Mission and Fort Owen. In February 1866 he arrived in the Elk Creek mining district in present-day Deer Lodge County. In the fall of 1866 Tofft left Elk Creek. A
Search Terms Prickly Pear
Landscape
Art
Covered Wagon