There are two things I distinctly remember from field trips to Historic Fort Snelling when I was a little girl: rock candy and lots of adults wearing Civil War-era uniforms.
Oh, and cannons. I guess I remember three things, because I definitely remember the cannons.
You can still find rock candy, costumed guides, cannons, and history lessons—encompassing the Civil War through World War II, the fur trade, slavery in Minnesota, and the U.S.- Dakota War of 1862—at Historic Fort Snelling, set to open this weekend (Memorial Day weekend). Admission ranges from $6-11. Parking is free.
This National Historic Landmark—once the furthest outpost of the U.S. military—played an important role in Minnesota’s history. The location, near the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, allowed for total control over trade routes. The state’s first post office was established here. Watch a short film in the Visitors’ Center and then “step back in time” to the 1800s as you walk the grounds. The entire experience is like an interactive history lesson.
If you visit during opening weekend, kids can try out the History Hunt scavenger hunt program and earn a special button. Special tours will be given throughout the weekend focusing on African American history in Minnesota. Watch cannon and musket firings, blacksmith demonstrations, hearth cooking, learn about American Indian history, and play historic games. Enjoy beautiful views. If you want to make a full day of it, pack a picnic lunch and hike along one of dozens of Fort Snelling State Park hiking trails below.
A Memorial Day program will be held at Fort Snelling National Cemetery at 10 a.m. on Memorial Day (May 26). The cemetery was created in 1870 to serve as a burial place for soldiers who died while stationed at the fort. After World War I, Congress passed legislation to designate a portion of the 436-acre grounds as a national cemetery. There are over 180,000 service men and women buried in Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
Historic Fort Snelling hours are Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.