MNHS Receives Federal Grant to Update Fort Snelling Historic District Designation

For immediate release

Release dated: 
July 6, 2016
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Minnesota Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3148,
David Mather, National Register Archaeologist, 651-259-3454,

MNHS Receives Federal Grant to Update Fort Snelling Historic District Designation

The Minnesota Historical Society has received a federal grant to update the historical designation of the Fort Snelling Historic District for both the National Register and National Historic Landmark listings. The update will result in a more inclusive description of what is historically important and why.

The current designation focuses on military history, from the arrival of Col. Henry Leavenworth and his troops in 1819 to the decommissioning of the military base at the end of World War II. While this important story will continue to be told, the updated documentation will be more inclusive, recognizing all historical aspects of this important place from American Indian history that dates back 10,000 years, to the stories of Dred and Harriet Scott, enslaved people who sued for their freedom, to the Japanese Military Intelligence Language School during World War II, and many more stories.

Over the next two years, MNHS staff will work with local communities and regional Tribal Historic Preservation Offices to re-examine the historical resources around the confluence as a whole, including archaeological sites, ruins and historic structures. This study will help determine the appropriate boundary and period of significance for the updated district. 

National Historic Landmark and National Register designations are federal recognitions of historical significance. This documentation helps land managers protect the most important parts of a property, even while facilitating reuse or redevelopment. Some early listings, such as the Fort Snelling Historic District which was done in the 1960s, were less detailed than today’s nominations. For this reason, National Register designations can be updated to help clarify the aspects of an area that are historically significant (and those that are not) and why.

Research and writing will take place over a two-year period, with a goal of presenting the updated documentation in 2018.

Designated Minnesota’s first National Historic Landmark in 1960 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966, the Fort Snelling Historic District is a large area at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. It includes the Historic Fort Snelling site managed by the Minnesota Historical Society, portions of the Upper Post and Fort Snelling State Park managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and federal property at Coldwater Spring within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.

About the Minnesota Historical Society
MNHS is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.