Not all historical markers will be found off the main road. Fort Snelling State Park is located right next to the Minneapolis International Airport. However, once you enter the park there are areas where you forget how close to the city you truly are, an occasional airplane takeoff or landing is all that can be heard to remind you of your location.
The State Park offers day passes and is pet-friendly as long as you keep them on a leash and they are not welcome into the historical fort that is nestled in the park. The park does offer tours of the historical sites for a small fee and also include an interpretive exhibit, visitor center, and naturalist programs. They also offer a variety of trails for hiking/biking that can take you as little as a mile or as long as 5 miles depending on your route. Markings are minimal on the trails and the maps aren't the greatest but most of the trails are paved and you can easily turn around and head back towards the entrance or parking lot.
The Fort was completed in 1825 and served to protect the United State's interests in the booming fur trade. It also assisted in maintaining peace by deterring advances by the British in Canada and enforcing boundaries between the American Indian Nations until official treaties could be made and gain land from them.
Fort Snelling is also known for the largest U.S mass execution in history. After the US-Dakota war of 1862, many Dakota leaders were captured and imprisoned at the Fort. The first execution of two Dakota leaders was on November 11th, 1865 and as they climbed up the scaffold one of them said, “As the white man comes in, the Indian goes out.” This was followed by 303 Dakotas who were accused of killing men and were awaiting execution.
It wasn't until President Abraham Lincoln stepped in and reviewed the evidence and had the number reduced to 39. It served for 40 years until the U.S government had established forts further West and no longer needed Fort Snelling.
Buildings 17 and 18, also known as the double barracks of Fort Snelling were constructed in 1904-1905 to house the troops. By the mid-1940s it was used as a Military Intelligence School to teach American students to become interpreters and translators.
In 1946 the post was deactivated and the buildings were turned into an outpatient clinic that handled more than 60,000 patients each year. The buildings have been vacant since the mid-1980s and are currently being repaired and The Minnesota Historical Society is determining their best use. For now, it is another historical attraction when hiking through the Fort Snelling State Park.
You don't have to go far to have fun. Here are a few places I visit when I'm not driving across country or exploring the Rustic Roads.