"Historic Fort Snelling" Top 5 Page for this destination Minnesota Things to Do Tip by traveldave

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After the War of 1812, the United States gained control of the Upper Mississippi River Valley by establishing a chain of forts and Indian agencies extending from Lake Michigan to the Missouri River. In 1819, the 5th Regiment of Infantry established a fort at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. Fort Snelling (today called Historic Fort Snelling) was completed in 1825 and named after its builder, Colonel Josiah Snelling.

The soldiers stationed at Fort Snelling made roads, built a gristmill and sawmill, and cleared hundreds of acres for crops. For 30 years, the fort was the center of the region, and was a meeting place for local American Indians of the Ojibwe and Dakota tribes, and a trading center for trappers working the area.

By 1851, the frontier had moved westward, diminishing the importance of Fort Snelling, which was demoted to a supply depot. In 1858, the year Minnesota became a state, Fort Snelling was sold to a land developer and was to be platted as a town site. However, with the outbreak of the American Civil War, Fort Snelling was reactivated and became a training center for Union troops.

After the American Civil War, Fort Snelling became the headquarters of the Department of Dakota that stretched from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. Troops from the fort served in the Indian campaigns and in the Spanish-American War of 1898.

During the Second World War, over 300,000 soldiers were trained at Fort Snelling in duties that included the operation of railroads and translating Japanese.

After the war, the fort finally closed. In 1960, Fort Snelling was designated the state's first National Historic Landmark, and the old fort was rebuilt with public and private funds. Nowadays, visitors gain an understanding of early military, civilian, and American Indian life in the region. The Fort Snelling History Center offers films and exhibits about the fort's past, as well as the history of the Upper Mississippi River Valley.

Directions: Historic Fort Snelling is located at 200 Tower Avenue, south of downtown Saint Paul.

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  • Updated Aug 7, 2012
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