"a trading post, a very important one, in the true ivory-country"
'First Consignment of Ivory from above Stanley Fall'
Public Domain'First Consignment of Ivory from above Stanley Falls' - Credit: Sir Harry Hamilton Johnston

In the early years of the state, ivory was the principal traded commodity, and this was reflected in the colony's administrative apparatus, composed of some fifty stations or posts strung out along the Congo River. A typical post consisted of little more than living quarters, a warehouse and a flagpole, manned by only one or two Europeans. From these stations, which functioned simultaneously as military bases and ivory collection points, Congo state officials and their African auxiliaries swept through the country on ivory raids, shooting elephants, buying tusks from villagers for next to nothing, or simply confiscating them.

One of the most important posts (and the likely model for Kurtz’s station) was Stanley Falls, which lay 1000 miles upstream from Leopoldville, at the upper limit of navigation on the main stretch of the Congo.