Columbia Fur Company was a fur trading and Indian trading business active from 1821 to 1827, in Michigan Territory and in the unorganized territory of the United States. It then became the Upper Missouri Outfit of the American Fur Company.
|Industry||Fur trade, Indian trade|
|Founder||Joseph Renville, Kenneth McKenzie, William Laidlaw, Daniel Lamont|
|Successor||American Fur Company|
|Green Bay, Minnesota River, Lake Traverse, Missouri River|
The company was founded in 1821, when the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company merged, and a large number of fur traders found themselves out of job. The founders, Joseph Renville, Kenneth McKenzie, William Laidlaw and Daniel Lamont were all British subjects, so they arranged for the company's activities to be officially carried out by William P. Tilton & Co., a New York company operating out of Saint Louis.
The company opened four trading posts at the Minnesota River in competition with the American Fur Company. Trading posts were also built at Lake Traverse and at Green Bay.  Soon, however, the operations were extended to the West. In 1823, the company built a trading post, Fort Tilton, by the Mandan villages on the Missouri River. The company eagerly participated in the trade with the Sioux and the Cheyenne on the Northern Plains. In competition with Pierre Chouteau Jr. and other fur traders from Saint Louis, the company built several trading posts on the Missouri River extending its trade to the Ponca and Omaha trade. The axle of the trade was Fort Tecumseh built where the Teton River merges with the Missouri. The company's posts were supplied from its headquarters at Lake Traverse.  
The company was bought by John Jacob Astor in 1827, and reorganized as the Upper Missouri Outfit of the Western Department of the American Fur Company, withdrawing its operations on the Great Lakes and leaving it to the Northern Department of the American Fur Company. Pierre Chouteau Jr. became the chief executive of the Western Department, while Kenneth McKenzie became manager of the Upper Missouri Outfit, operating above the mouth of the Big Sioux River. McKenzie built Fort Union at the mouth of the Yellowstone River as the Outfit's center of operations. 
Trading posts edit
- Fort Floyd 1826 
- Fort Lookout 1822, near Fort Kiowa.
- Fort Tecumseh 1822 
- Ponca Post, near Nanza just below the mouth of the Niobrara River.
- Tilton's Post or Tilton's Fort, built in 1822 on the opposite site of the Missouri from the Mandan villages. In 1823 the post was moved to the villages, to get protection from Arikara attacks.
- Post at the mouth of White Earth River, 1825-1831. Replaced by Fort Clark.
When Columbia Fur Company sold out to Astor in 1827, the following posts were included in the deal:
- Chittenden 1902, vol. 1, pp. 323-325.
- Jones 1966, pp. 107-108.
- Barbour 2001, p. 11.
- Wishart 1979, pp. 49-50.
- Barbour 2001, p. 17.
- Wishart 1979, p. 53.
- Barbour 2001, pp. 40-43.
- Chittenden 1902, vol. 3, p. 953.
- Robertson 1999, pp. 138, 151.
- "Columbia Fur Company Forts". Fort Wiki. Retrieved 2017-11-30.
- Chittenden 1902, vol. 3, p. 952.
- Chittenden 1902, vol. 3, p. 957.
- Wishart 1979, map, p. 49.
- Chittenden 1902, vol. 3, p. 965.
Cited literature edit
- Barbour, Barton H. (2001). Fort Union and the upper Missouri fur trade . Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
- Chittenden, Hiram Martin (1902). The American Fur Trade of the Far West. New York: Francis P. Harper.
- Jones, Evans (1966). Citadel in the Wilderness. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
- Robertson, Roland G. (1999). Competitive Struggle: America's Western Fur Trading Posts, 1764-1865. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Press.
- Wishart, David J. (1979). The Fur Trade of the American West 1807-1840. University of Nebraska Press.