Buildings and Trails

Visit the agency’s history center to explore exhibits on Dakota history, life, and culture. Then follow the trails to the restored 1861 stone warehouse and the Redwood Ferry crossing, the site of the Battle of Redwood Ferry.

History center

Begin your visit at the history center, where you’ll learn about the agency’s purpose and daily operation and can explore the underlying causes of the US-Dakota War of 1862. Browse the museum store, where you’ll find Native American books and gifts. Explore the site’s period gardens and farm plots, and compare the differences between traditional Dakota farming practices and those taught by agency employees.

Then head to the trails taking you through hardwood forests and along the Minnesota River as you pass by sites with historic meaning from the US-Dakota War.

Remember, take only photographs and leave only footprints on this Heritage Trail.

Trail to the 1861 Agency Warehouse

Distance: 1/2 mile
Difficulty: easy; wheelchair accessible

As you leave the history center and start out on the Agency Trail, imagine this site as a working town in the decade before the Civil War. The first segment of the trail lies on top of the original road connecting New Ulm and the Upper Sioux Agency. Follow it to the original 1861 stone warehouse, the only agency-era structure left standing at the site today.

Then explore the center of the agency grounds where farmers, doctors, carpenters, blacksmiths, children, teachers, missionaries, business people, and travelers — European settlers and Dakota alike — went about the daily routines of mid-19th century rural life.

River Trail

Distance: 1 mile
Difficulty: very steep grade; not wheelchair accessible

Hike the River Trail and pass near the spot where the agency blacksmith shop once stood. It was from here that agency workers fled the morning of August 18, 1862, in an effort to reach Fort Ridgely, and it was here that the Dakota surprised Captain Marsh and his soldiers from Fort Ridgely later that day.

Traders Trail

Distance: 1 mile
Difficulty: easy; wheelchair accessible

Walk in the footsteps of the Dakota fur traders who used this trail to trade their furs for goods with the agency before the war. The traders and their stores at the Lower Sioux Agency were the first to be attacked when war broke out.