On September 21, 1805, Zebulon Pike arrived and proceeded with a purchase proposal for 100,000 acres of land in exchange for $200 worth of trade goods, a keg of whiskey and the promise of a trading post. Fifteen years later, Colonel Josiah Snelling took command of the fort and established its permanent character.
The fort continued to be a presence for both the native population, settlers, and the US government for another 125 years. During the Civil War, Minnesota used the fort to train volunteers that wanted to join the Union Army. The Fort was also used as a supply base for the Dakota Territory and a training center for soldiers assigned to the Indian Campaigns, the Spanish American War, and World Wars I and II.
During World War II, Fort Snelling processed over 300,000 inductees. The fort was decommissioned at the end of the war in 1945 and given to the Veterans Administration. A few years later freeway construction threatened the future of Fort Snelling. After many more years of debate, the fort was designated in 1960 as Minnesota's first National Historic Landmark. Since then, Historic Fort Snelling has been rebuilt and maintained by both private and public funding and is managed by the Minnesota Historical Society.
Because the Mississippi and its tributaries offered a natural transportation route for movement of people and goods, the junctions of these rivers (confluences) were important places. To the Dakota, this sacred place was the center of the world. To Europeans, it was a strategic location capable of monitoring and controlling a majority of river traffic in the Upper Mississippi River Watershed.
Take a tour of the Fort and look into Minnesota's past and discover the significance and impact Fort Snelling had on the surrounding area.
Official Great River Road Interpretive Center
The Great River Road National Scenic Byway follows the course of the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The scenic route passes through 10 states and hundreds of river towns. Learn more >