Fort Snelling designated a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Places… Watch Video
Friends of Fort Snelling... Educate, Preserve and Promote
Fort Snelling is fundamental to the history of our region and nation. It is comprised of many people, places, and stories including the Historic Fort, a State Park, the Boy Scouts’ Basecamp, the National Cemetery, the Sibley House and more.
The Friends of Fort Snelling was established in 1961 to preserve the historic fort and create a state park. Today we work to educate people about and raise the profile of Fort Snelling. In 2016 the Friends of Fort Snelling was instrumental in getting Fort Snelling designated by the National Trust for Historic Places as Minnesota's only National Treasure.
Over the years we have helped to expand and protect the Park and Fort by working to acquire funding for land and facilities, most recently the Thomas Savage Visitor Center. We have long supported new educational and interpretive programs for the Historic Fort and the State Park. More on our history.
Jim Miller President, Friends of Fort Snelling
This site was created by the Friends of Fort Snelling as a collection of news, information, events and stories contributed by the family of organizations and historical participants located at the fort and surrounding areas.
The 2020 bicentennial of the founding of the Fort gives us an additional opportunity to showcase the historical locations of Fort Snelling, promote special bicentennial events and weave together its people and stories in one place to commemorate 200 years of history.
For more information about the Fort Snelling family of locations scroll down.
Located on a strategic bluff at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers… Fort Snelling’s history reaches back to 1820 where it is believed that the first people entered the area 10,000 years ago. Historically, the Dakota People regard this sacred land as “Bdote: Where the Waters Meet” their spiritual and cultural point of origin.
Named a National Treasure in 2016, Fort Snelling is a place that helps tell the sometimes painful story of Minnesota and American history including Native peoples, trade, soldiers, immigrants, and enslaved people.
Take a tour of the fort and look into Minnesota’s past and discover the significance of this historic place. Explore on your own and ask questions of the re-enactors. Hike down the steep path to Fort Snelling State Park while watching for resident and migratory songbirds. Learn about the Fort Snelling Revitalization Project
Base Camp is located at historic Fort Snelling with two buildings. One is in the TeamBuilding Center in a former cavalry drill hall and the other is the new Leadership Center.
The TeamBuilding Center is brought to life with opportunities including rock climbing, ropes courses, archery, and team games while Leadership Center has state-of-the-art technology. Owned and operated by Northern Star Scouting, our mission is to serve all youth through field trips, lock-ins, retreats, summer camps, private parties, and community group activities.
The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest Scouting organizations in the United States of America and one of the largest youth organizations in the United States
With more than 2.4 million youth participants and nearly one million adult volunteers, the BSA was founded in 1910, and since then, more than 110 million Americans have been participants in BSA programs at some time. The BSA is part of the international Scout Movement and became a founding member organization of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1922.
Veterans Administration Mission Statement:
To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.
We strive to provide veterans the world-class benefits and services they have earned – and to do so by adhering to the highest standards of compassion, commitment, excellence, professionalism, integrity, accountability, and stewardship.
The VA at Fort Snelling offers a range of services to support and treat Veterans experiencing challenges with mental health and addictions. We strive to offer the most up-to-date and evidence-based services and have a strong partnership with the University of Minnesota to facilitate research and training.
Located in the heart of the Twin Cities, Fort Snelling State Park offers extensive hiking, bike, snowshoe, and ski trails that link to an extensive regional trail system.
Canoe, fish, or swim in Snelling Lake or hike on Pike Island where the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet. Interpretive exhibits at the Thomas C Savage Visitor Center provide a good introduction to the history and resources of the park area.
Park History: Generations of Dakota lived in villages along the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers that meet in Fort Snelling state park, long before Europeans arrived.
The river confluence was believed to be the place of origin and center of the earth by the bands of Mde-wa-kan-ton-wan Dakota, the “Dwellers by Mystic Lake.” By the late 1600s, Europeans had visited the area. In the 1820s, historic Fort Snelling was built on the bluff above the two historic rivers to control the exploration, trade, and settlement on these waterways.
In 1870 the Fort Snelling Cemetery was created to serve as a burial place for soldiers who died while stationed at the fort.
In the mid-1930s members of the Grand Army of the Republic, Spanish-American War Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans, and the American Legion came together to push for the establishment of a national military cemetery at Fort Snelling. In 1936 and 1937 Congress approved the project.
Sibley House is on the southern bluff of the Minnesota River upstream from its confluence with the Mississippi. It is the site of Henry Hastings Sibley’s home, who was the regional manager of the American Fur Company and Minnesota’s first governor.
The Sibley Historic Site is the oldest Euro-American settlement in Minnesota, and it includes four distinctive limestone buildings gracing the Minnesota River bluff across from Historic Fort Snelling.
These buildings mark the American Fur Company’s control over the region’s Dakota trade between 1825 and 1853, when Mendota was a major center of the region’s fur trade. The Sibley Historic Site offers events, seasonal guided tours, and a museum shop.
The Coldwater Springs area served as an important crossroads for Native Americans and traders using both the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers for commerce and travel.
During the construction of Fort Snelling U.S. soldiers camped at Coldwater Spring, making it the first American settlement in Minnesota. By 1825, construction of the fort had been completed and soldiers had moved from Coldwater into the fort.
The area around the spring, continued to attract traders, Native Americans, and a small village developed that serviced the trade at the site.
The spring also continued to provide water to the new fort and the later Upper Post. The fort initially relied on horse-drawn water wagons and eventually railcars to deliver water from Coldwater Spring up until the 1870s.
By 1879, the fort was expanded under Secretary of War, Alexander Ramsey. The fort’s expansion demanded a more efficient water supply system and, in 1880, the Army established a formal waterworks at the spring. Coldwater served as the water source for the Army until the 1920s when the Army turned to the City of Saint Paul to supply water for the fort.
Dominium is redeveloping one of Minneapolis’s most important, historic sites. The upper post at Fort Snelling will soon be redeveloped into affordable housing.
This community, consisting of 26 different buildings, will feature 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 bedroom apartments. The Upper Post Flats will include amenities such as a pool, club room, business center, fitness center, playground and more. Construction is slated to begin in the fall of 2019.
The 26 buildings at Fort Snelling Upper Post were originally built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and have been managed by the DNR Division of Parks and Trails since 1971.
The site was the point of departure for thousands of Minnesota soldiers during the Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II. It was the site of the Japanese language school for the entire U.S. military from 1944 to 1946.
To commemorate the bicentennial of Historic Fort Snelling in the summer of 2020, the Friends of Fort Snelling is embarking on a major initiative to reintroduce this dramatic National Landmark to Minnesotans and history lovers worldwide.
We will highlight the Fort Snelling’s many stories – stories of Minnesota and American history told nowhere else – will be experienced in preserved historic buildings amid restored natural beauty. Fort Snelling was named a National treasure in April 2016... Watch Presentation