Historic Fort Snelling, Saint Paul

4.6
#2 of 7 in Historic Sites in Saint Paul
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.

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
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
170 reviews
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4.6
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  • When we went there was a free exhibit on the Japanese internment during WWII and its effects on people with ties to Minnesota. The historic fort and surrounding grounds is a good place to hike, explor...  more »
  • The fort is worth a visit any time, but watch especially for their mystery events in the fall. Mislabeled "CSI", they're actually costumed historical re-enactments that require timed tickets. The plot...  more »
  • This is a great spot for hiking and the historical tours of Fort Snelling are interactive and fabulous. They have a lot of good programs, and interpretative events. We've gone on our own and as a part...  more »
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  • I will be opening the gate Sunday morning to visit my Dad on the Lord's day witch is my right. I paid my taxes & my Dad served this country with honer. This is my right & the government has no right to say I can't visit my father. So any one else who would love to visit there loved ones Sunday 'lords day' & the time of are my Savior Jesus Christ & Monday Jesus birthday. If they don't open for me I will ask that they let me put my Dad someplace else because this ain't right to say when & for how long I may visit my father for because if not for men & woman like him the people would not have there freedom they have today. Marry Christmas.
  • I was only in town for a two day trip and stopped by for a visit as this place seemed right up my alley. I got to the main gate of the fort and was told it was closed for school visits... I was a little less than impressed. The place is quite large and didn't really see a reason for the entire place to be close for this. Would has been nice to see more than the exterior of the fort.
  • Arrived about 1-1/2 hours before closing, which is not nearly enough time if you love historical places. We were in time for the last demonstration of the firing of the cannon, which was narrated and presented as if you stepped back in time. Also, we got to see the soldiers lower the flag for the day. Both were a great treat. Everyone is genuinely friendly and we had the best time. Very well preserved and things that were replica were done well. I pray I have opportunity to return and spend a full day. This place is perfect for everyone, young to old.
  • Oh the Historic Fort Snelling. On a trip to Minneapolis, my friends and I saw many signs for and crossed the massive footprint that is Snelling. We got so curious that we had to and what a good choice we made. It is a wonderously vast historic location that is worth at least a stop or a full on visit. Might have only caught a glimpse of the live reenactment but we wish we could have seen more.
  • Fort snelling is an amazing place to spend an afternoon. They have employees in Period clothes all around the fort that know a lot about how life was back then. It is one of the most open (as in you can touch a lot). They also have almost all the rooms in the barracks and house open so that you can walk into them. Yard games were set out to play, you could use a wash board also. It was a great time!
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