The original name of Fort Snelling was Fort Saint Anthony. Constructed by the 5th Infantry Regiment of the army of the United States, Fort Saint Anthony was built under the direction of Colonel Josiah Snelling. Construction took place between 1820 and 1824 and after it was completed, the Fort was renamed for Josiah Snelling and has been known as Fort Snelling since that time. Fort Snelling is the site of one of the longest nearly continuous weather records in the United States, having been started by the post surgeon in 1820 and continuing until the present day.
Post in the Frontier
Fort Snelling was one of a chain of forts designed by the federal War Department to protect the northwestern territories from encroachment by the British and Canadians. Fort Snelling, being built at the confluence of the Mississippi and The Minnesota rivers was particularly important because of the waterways it guarded. Soldiers at these forts attempted to restrict all commercial use of the rivers to citizens of the US, as well as keeping the American Indian lands from being settled by white settlers until treaties were in place which permitted it. Fort Snelling soldiers were also charged with keeping the peace between the Sioux and the Ojibwe people.
Lawrence Taliafero from 1820-1839
Development in the area
By 1858, the towns of Saint Paul and Minneapolis had been founded and had grown significantly. It was felt that Fort Snelling was obsolete and no longer needed as a frontier military post. At that time it was sold to a man named Franklin Steel. Shortly after the sale, the United States became involved in the civil war and Mr. Steel leased the fort back to the US. More than 24,000 soldiers from Minnesota were trained at the fort. Soldiers from Fort Snelling also fought in the Spanish American War of 1898 and in the Indian Wars. In WWII, Fort Snelling was the headquarters for the Military Intelligence Serve Language School teaching Japanese to army personnel.
Modern Day Fort Snelling
Over time, the military had less use for the property. With age and disuse, the Fort fell into a state of neglect. By 2006, the property was added to the list of America's Most Endangered Places and restoration projects were started. Restoration of the fort continues but it is being used now as an educational establishment and has been partially rebuilt to look as it did during the years when it was a working frontier post. It offers tours and educational events throughout the year.
The army had need for reliable roadways for movement of troops and supplies between populated areas and other forts. Roadways were build between the city of Dubuque Iowa and Fort Snelling and between Fort Snelling and Superior Minnesota. Portions of those fort to fort roadways have been included in some of the numbered county roads in Minnesota and undoubtedly promoted settlement of the more remote areas of the state.