Wadsworth Trail

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Wagon Train.jpg

Earliest History
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Still reeling from the Civil War and past Indian Hostilities, the US government mapped out and planned the creation of the Wadsworth Trail in 1864. It was the earliest such trail in that area. It was intended to be a military supply route from St. Cloud, Minnesota to Fort Wadsworth in South Dakota. Fort Wadsworth had been named for a Civil War general and was located near the small frontier town of Sisseton, South Dakota. Two years earlier the area had been attacked by the Sioux Nation and it was felt that a fort was necessary to provide security along the planned supply route. Although Minnesota had acquired  statehood in 1858, it was still considered to be wilderness and was sparcely settled; particularly in the western part of the state. No trails had been blazed into the area.

History[edit | edit source]

There was little law enforcement at that time and travel was hazardous and difficult.  To travel over unbroken territory was the task of intrepid and couragous American pioneers who saw an opportunity to settle, raise their families and push the boundaries of the country ever westward. The trail was broken by government teamsters driving large wagons pulled along by teams of 12 mules each. The wagons were accompanied by cavalry prepared to protect the people and the guns, ammunition and food that they carried. If a soldier died along the way, he was buried and his sword was stuck into the ground to mark his grave.  One such sword and grave was discovered as recently as 1920 by children playing along the trail near the Morris township in Minnesota.

Pioneer Trail[edit | edit source]

With the Wadsworth trail barely broken, pioneers from the east began their trek westward.  The Wadsworth trail is well maintained in modern times and has many historial markers along the way.  It is commemorated as the first of the pioneer trails rising out of that area. Once pioneers began using the trail, their wagons were primarily pulled by Oxen.  Fort Wadsworth has been renamed Fort Sisselton for the nearby town of Sisselton, South Dakota and closed and partially dismantled by1888, but the trail is still called the Fort Wadsworth Trail.