The history of this place is more than just the story of the fort itself. The junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers is a place of major social, cultural, and historical significance to all people inhabiting the region, a place whose history evokes both pride and pain. It is a place of cultural importance to many Dakota people as a historical gathering place, the site of the B'dote creation story, and as a place of Dakota internment and exile after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.Plan to visit Historic Fort Snelling and other customer-reviewed, writer-recommended Saint Paul attractions using our Saint Paul sightseeing planner.
This area was also the crossroads of two major river highways of the fur trade, one of the most lucrative businesses during the 19th century. After the War of 1812, the U.S. government established its strategic presence at the river junction with the arrival of military forces and an Indian agent, whose goals were to promote and protect the interests of the United States in the region's fur trade and to gain the friendship and cooperation of American Indian communities. The establishment of the fort and Indian Agency became a foothold of U.S. expansionism in the territory that would become Minnesota.
Fort Snelling also played an important role in the great conflict over slavery in the United States. During the 1820s and 1830s, it is estimated that between 15 and 30 enslaved people lived and worked at Fort Snelling at any given time, in spite of the fact that the Missouri Compromise (1820) made slavery illegal in the region. Dred and Harriet Scott, two enslaved African Americans, used their time held at Fort Snelling as part of their decade-long legal battle to gain freedom for themselves and their children.
Located on top of the bluff overlooking the river junction, Fort Snelling served the U.S. military for over 120 years, through conflicts at home and abroad, and thousands of Minnesotans received their first taste of military service within its walls. By the late 20th century its national cemetery became the site of the final resting place for more than 180,000 men and women who served in the armed forces. Today, the historic fort has been restored to its early 19th century appearance, and the site's living history program brings the past to life!
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Historic Fort Snelling reviews
I gave this attraction four stars because only about ¼ of the fort is open. There were only about four (very knowledgeable) docents due to Covid staffing shortages, most of the buildings were closed.... more
I gave this attraction four stars because only about ¼ of the fort is open. There were only about four (very knowledgeable) docents due to Covid staffing shortages, most of the buildings were closed.... more »
It’s been 20 years since my nephew and I visited Historic Fort Snelling. A lot has changed. Many renovations of buildings has occurred and many more innovations are in the making. For those who..... more
It’s been 20 years since my nephew and I visited Historic Fort Snelling. A lot has changed. Many renovations of buildings has occurred and many more innovations are in the making. For those who..... more »
I've been here hundreds of times with my son, and it's a new adventure every time. We love it!! We look forward to going here every season. Even though we have been there many times, it is always a new adventure. Not only do we continue to go back there again and again, but we invite friends to come with who have either never been there, or have not been there in a very long time.
Was very informative they normally have several reenacting of the time but did not have much when we were there due to COVID-19 but would recommend checking it out. Bonus if you are a active duty or a veteran. Spouse and I were free.
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