Ft. Snelling SP is located about seven miles from either downtown St. Paul or downtown Minneapolis, MN. It’s adjacent to MSP International Airport, and sits at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. Located in the heart of the Twin Cities, the park entrance is off State Hwy. 5 at Post Rd. near the MSP airport. Additional historic references follow near the end of this post.
Wildife includes white-tailed deer, fox, woodchucks, badgers and skunks. Snapping, soft-shelled and wood turtles are often seen on a log or a rock along the rivers or lakes. Eagles, hawks, owls and numerous song birds can be seen throughout the park.
In late January, an old friend -Tom N. (recently retired) joined me for an afternoon of snowshoeing in Ft. Snelling SP. It had been decades since I’d visited the park. We had just received “7-10” of fresh snow a day or two earlier, and I wanted to get out before the weekend crowds. Perhaps Tom and I will get out more often, now that he’s retired -time will tell! 🙂
[sidebar] I’ve hiked/snowshoed sections of the adjacent Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, which includes 72 mi. of the Minnesota River and it’s wetlands, west of Ft. Snelling, many times over the past decade. I highly recommend the MVNWR for year-round outdoor adventures, close to home -crowds are almost non-existent, especially twenty miles upstream!
We parked the car, hiked a quarter mi., and crossed a backwater channel (over a bridge) of the Minnesota River to Pike Island, then leisurely hiked about a 5 mi. loop. We met a few other individuals, definitely no crowds, or even small groups on the trail! It was a slow walk through the woods -we enjoyed the views, and looked for wildlife.
A picture like this always reminds me of Central Park in NYC on a cold day when no one is outdoors -but that’s never the case in NYC! I guess it’s just the overhead canopy and the snow. The two locations wouldn’t look alike during the summer.
The deer made my day. They let me walk closer and closer… slowly. It was a good day in the woods with my old friend, Tom! Next good snow, I’m headed to the North Shore and the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) for a little more challenging snowshoeing. Anyone interested, drop me a note/email -probably a long, three-day weekend (minimum).
Historic Fort Snelling (the Fort), located on the bluff overlooking the rivers, was built between 1820 and 1825, for the purpose of protecting the fur trade, including keeping the British traders out. Later, the Fort was the site of military training and operations from the Civil War through World War II. Fort Snelling has an interesting history to say the least. See the links below (including bibliographies), for additional information.
Fort Snelling National Cemetery Fort Snelling Cemetery was established in 1870 to serve as a burial ground for the soldiers who died while stationed at the post. Following World War I, as new legislation expanded the eligibility requirements for burial in a national cemetery, the citizens of St. Paul organized a petition to designate a national cemetery in their area. In 1937, Congress responded with legislation that authorized a portion of land at Fort Snelling Military Reservation for this purpose. Fort Snelling National Cemetery was established in 1939 with the first burial on July 5, of Capt. George H. Mallon, whose acts of heroism at Meuse-Argonne in France were recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Following the dedication of the new cemetery, arrangements were made for the exhumation of the remains of those buried at the older post cemetery and the reinterment of the 680 soldiers who served from 1820-1939 buried in Fort Snelling National Cemetery. The 1930s were also a major boom era for national cemetery growth. Ft. Snelling is one of a dozen or so very large cemeteries conceived between World War I and World War II to serve large veteran populations in some cities.
In May 1960, Fort Snelling Air Force Station transferred 146 acres of land to the national cemetery. One more land transfer of 177 acres followed in 1961, bringing the cemetery to its present size. Because of the frigid winters, about 1,000 graves are dug each fall to be used for winter interments.
73 de Mike, KEØGZT