Historical Timeline

1805 - Treaty negotiated

Lieutenant Zebulon Pike negotiated a treaty with the Dakota tribe, granting the U.S. government 100,000 acres at the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Peters (Minnesota) Rivers.

1819 - The first fort is constructed

The first commander, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Leavenworth, chose the low ground on the right (south) bank of the mouth of the St. Peters River as the site for a temporary quarters.

1819 - Camp Coldwater

Fearing spring floods and more disease, Lt. Colonel Leavenworth moved his troops to high ground near a spring a mile up the west bank of the Mississippi River - this became Camp Coldwater. During the summer, Colonel Josiah Snelling became the new commander of the regiment. Under his energetic directrion, a new stone fort was constructed atop the bluff on the west bank of the confluence of the St. Peters and Mississippi Rivers.

1821 - Fort St. Anthony

The new post is given the name Fort St. Anthony

1825 - Fort Snelling is completed

Construction of the new post is completed.

1826 - Post renamed Fort Snelling

In recognition of his considerable achievement, the War Department officially changed the name of the site to Fort Snelling.

1828 - Zachary Taylor commander

Zachary Taylor commands the fort. Lt. Colonel Taylor later becomes the 12th president of the United States. One of Taylor's daughters elopes with Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, reportedly marrying him in the fort's block house. Jefferson Davis later becomes president of the Confederacy.

1836-1839 - Dred Scott lives at Fort Snelling

Dred Scott lives at Fort Snelling as a slave of Dr. Emerson. Mr. Scott later sues for his freedom in Scott vs. Sandford, carrying the case to the Supreme Court in 1857. The case helped widen the rift between North and South, leading to the Civil War in 1861

1849 - Minnesota becomes a territory

Fort Snelling's importance wanes as the frontier moves farther west.

1857 - Fort Snelling is sold to Franklin Steele

Under dubious circumstances, Fort Snelling is sold to St. Paul businessman Franklin Steele for $90,000, only a third of which was ever paid. Steele plans to build a city on the site and draws up plans for the layout. His dreams never materialize and the fort is used primarily to house sheep.

1861-1864 - Fort Snelling is taken over by the Army

The outbreak of the Civil War and the U.S.-Dakota Conflict prompted the reactivation of the fort. Several hundred Dakota die on Pike Island below the fort when approximately 1600 elderly people, women, and children are incarcerated there in the winter of 1862 ? 1863.

1871 - Fort Snelling formally transferred to the government

1879-1884 - New construction

Many new buildings a constructed on the post, including the first barracks with indoor plumbing and central heating. The iconic headquarters is built at this time as well as ma ny of the houses on officers' row.

1891 - More growth

The post bakery, prison, and additional officers' houses are built.

1898 - Spanish/American War

Soldiers muster in at the fort for the Spanish/American War. The post hospital is built.

1903-1904 - Another building program

Another burst of building on the post, including the bachelor officers' quarters, fire station, and band quarters.

1917 - WWI

The United States enters WWI. Fort Snelling is used to muster in new recruits and as a training center for officers. The post reaches its largest size at this time, with over 400 buildings. The airport also gets its start as a single grass strip in the center of a race track.

1918-1938 - Country club of the Army

Fort Snelling becomes known as the country club of the Army for all the amenities it offers soldiers. There's a golf course, swimming pool, hockey in the winter, polo grounds, a game preserve, fishing, a movie theater, and its own street car line, allowing easy access to both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

1918 - General Hospital #29

The entire post is turned into General Hospital #29 to convalesce wounded soldiers from the Great War.

1938 - WPA makeover

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) reconstructs protions of the post, including sidewalks, sewer lines, new porches, and garages.

1940 - Preparing for a new war

The Selective Service Act prompts the Army to make Fort Snelling into an induction center. Over 300,000 people are processed through the fort during the war.

1941-1944 - The U.S. joins WWII

Fort Snelling plays its part in the war. In addition to processing soldiers into and out of the army, Fort Snelling trains several MP (Military Police) battalions and engineer battalions, used for reconstructing railroads in Allied occupied Europe.

1944 - Military Language School

Fort Snelling hosts a military intelligence language school. Over 6,000 linguists, mostly Nisei (Japanese-American) graduate from the school, which teaches soldiers the Japanese language so they can interrogate enemy soldiers and translate documents. Fort Snelling is chosen as the location for the school because Minnesota has a reputation as a tolerant state.

1946-1972 - Veterans Administration

The Veterans Administration occupies the upper post, using the buildings for outpatient rehabilitation, office space, and record storage. The houses are occupied by doctors and administrators.

1946 - Fort Snelling is decommissioned

The Army transfers Fort Snelling to the Veterans Administration.

1956 - The first steps are taken to preserve and restore Historic Fort Snelling

The first steps are taken to preserve and restore Historic Fort Snelling. The proposal of the Minnesota Highway Department to build a new bridge with a freeway an dcloverleaf interchange right through the old fort brought action to the cause.

1960 - National landmark

Fort Snelling is designated a national landmark, one of the first in the country.

1961 - Fort Snelling State Park established

1966 - National Register of Historic Places

The Upper Bluff area is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1969 - Title transfer

Historic Fort Snelling and the Chapel were deeded to the State of Minnesota.

1971 - DNR acquisition

Portions of the upper post are transferred from the Department of Interior to the DNR (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources).

1976 - Critical Area

The State designates the Mississippi River and its adjacent corridor within the metropolitan area a Critical Area. I don't really know what that means either.

1997 - The Army leaves

The Army leaves most of the upper post. They had been using many of the old buildings as office space.

1997-1998 - Reuse study

An extensive study of the upper post is started to document the state of the buildings and possible reuses for them. It's completed in October, 1998.

2001 - Polo fields

The polo grounds are converted to baseball and soccer fields.

2005 - 10 Most Endangered

The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota lists the upper post as one of the 10 most endangered places.

2006 - Reuse study redux

An update of the reuse study is conducted. The National Trust for Historic Preservation lists Fort Snelling Upper Post as one of the 11 most endangered places.

2008 - Landscape study

Landscape study is completed. Mothballing of the buildings continues in an effort to buy time until development issues are worked out.