||WDMM Library Collection
||The Mullan Military Road, 624 miles long, was constructed under the direction of Captain John Mullan between Fort Benton, Montana and Fort Walla Walla, Washington at a cost of $230,000.00.
Exploration and surveying of the road was accomplished 1853 - 1854. Lieutenant Mullan surveyed three routes through the Bitter Root mountains; Lolo Pass (Lewis & Clark route), the Clark Fork river, and through the Coeur d' Alenes. Lolo Pass was deemed to rugged. The Clark Fork was surveyed during the spring runoff and flooding and considered unsuitable. The Coeur d' Alene route was surveyed during one of our summers to die for. Consequently, the route through the Coeur d' Alenes was chosen over the other two.
Actual construction of the road was delayed until 1859 due to Indian unrest. The initial construction of the road through the Coeur d' Alene Mining District was accomplished during the summer and fall of 1859 building from the Cataldo Mission in the west to the Bitter Root divide in the east. Captain Mullan and his crew came back through in the spring and summer of 1861 making improvements and cutting a new road section over 4th July Pass and the north end of Lake Coeur d' Alene.
The road through the Coeur d' Alenes fell into disuse and disrepair due to the harsh environment and lack of funds for maintenance. Additionally, the original reasons the road was built ceased to be vital. The railroad was routed along the Clark Fork route at the recommendation of Capt Mullan in 1864. The military made meager use of the route because the Indian question had been mostly resolved. Finally, the route proved to be too rough for most travelers; only a handful hardy explorers and prospectors made use of the road.
||Captain John Mullan