Fort Ridgely State Park contains 27 CCC/Rustic Style historic resources within a 220-acre historic district whose boundaries define the original park. The historic district includes two distinct areas of the park that are divided by an abrupt change in topography. Fort Creek runs through the rugged and heavily wooded lower area. The upper area, near the site of Fort Ridgely, is quite flat. The historic resources within the district range from shelter buildings, a residence, and a water tower to picnic tables and historical reconstructions. Architects for the park buildings were from the Minnesota Central Design Office of the National Park Service.
The park’s historic district includes these resources:
Water Tower and Garage
Fort Ridgely State Park is historically significant as the first example in Minnesota of the development of intensive recreational facilities at an historic site.
Built with local Morton Rainbow Granite, the buildings and structures at Fort Ridgely State Park are architecturally significant for their Rustic Style stone construction. The Water Tower and Garage building is an especially distinctive example of rustic design. The fort Commissary Building is the only remaining example in the state park system of an historical reconstruction executed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The landscape design for Fort Ridgely State Park shows how master planning was used in state park development. The master plan located and separated the various areas of the park and carefully related the new development to the fort in order to insure non-intrusive and environmentally sensitive expansion of the park.
Fort Ridgely State Park was established in 1911. Because of its association with the U.S.-Dakota Conflict of 1862, the park was known as a Memorial State Park. The fort, built in 1853 as an Army outpost to protect the newly settled lands, was the third military post constructed in Minnesota to defend the frontier. A cluster of buildings rather than a fortified structure, the fort was equipped with three cannons and managed to withstand an Indian attack. In a nine-day siege that began on August 2, l862, Indians surrounded the fort until General H. H. Sibley and his troops arrived.
The state legislature authorized the purchase of the five acres of land for the park in 1911. Additional areas were added from time to time as the park became an especially popular meeting place for groups to celebrate historic events. On August 1, l934, CCC Camp SP-12 was assigned to the develop recreational facilities and to partially restore the original fort buildings. In October 1935, the state's quota of CCC camps was reduced and the Fort Ridgely camp was abandoned, although development was incomplete. The camp was reoccupied in October 1936 by the CCC camp from Camden State Park. This CCC camp completed the park’s development and historical restoration.
For current information about Fort Ridgely State Park, go to the DNR website.