The landscape around Historic Fort Snelling was formed at least 10,000 years ago when glaciers retreated over Minnesota, leaving thick moraine deposits that were carved out by torrential meltwaters into deep valleys.
The confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers have brought many indigenous peoples and others to the site for thousands of years. Those who lived in or traveled through this area saw different landscapes across time.
In 1817, Maj. Stephen H. Long described grasslands along the bluffs. But today, visitors can see the forested river valley that grew long after the construction of Fort Snelling.