Historic Fort Snelling Daily Experience

For immediate release

Release dated: 
April 17, 2018
Media contacts: 

Lauren Peck, 651-259-3137, lauren.peck@mnhs.org
Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Historic Fort Snelling Daily Experience

This summer visitors will find a revamped daily experience at Historic Fort Snelling with new and expanded content and new ways to engage with this site’s history. Visitors can also offer feedback on summer programming, which will help staff develop site plans for 2020.

Daily Activities
Visitors can explore a variety of stories at 11 staffed interpretive stations:

  • Bdote/Dakota Homeland: Explore the landscape outside the historic fort and learn about the Dakota people who have called Bdote home for thousands of years.
  • Military Intelligence Service Language School: Step into a World War II-era classroom where Japanese-American soldiers trained to become linguists and experience a language lesson from a costumed interpreter.
  • Dred and Harriet Scott: Visit the space where the Scotts likely lived and worked while enslaved at Fort Snelling and learn about their struggles for freedom and lasting impact on U.S. history. Plus, engage in a facilitated conversation about the meaning of citizenship.
  • Soldiers’ Stories: Help staff test how best to share the history of various Minnesota veterans by engaging with this prototype display on soldiers’ stories. Visitor feedback will help shape the final exhibit featured in the new visitor center in 2020.
  • Treaties: Join a conversation about the various treaties made between Native American tribes and the U.S. government and their lasting impact on Native communities.
  • Zachary Taylor Household: After many years of interpretation as Col. Josiah Snelling’s home, the commandant’s house will transform into the household of Zachary Taylor, who took command of the fort in 1828. See how the home was likely furnished during Taylor’s tenure and learn about his time in Minnesota before becoming president in 1849.
  • Race and Slavery: In the kitchen of the commandant’s house, hear stories of the enslaved men and women who did domestic work for Zachary Taylor and others at the fort, despite Minnesota’s status as a “free” state. Visitors can also experience hearth cooking demos and learn about African-American foodways.
  • Immigration: Listen to stories of immigrants who arrived at Fort Snelling from the early 1800s through World War II and draw connections to issues today.
  • Commerce and Trade: Inside the Sutler Store, delve into how the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers has been a center of trade and commerce for centuries.
  • Healing: Learn how soldiers have healed from the physical and mental wounds of military trauma throughout history. Discover how soldiers recovered at Fort Snelling after World War I or try your hand at tying a Civil War-era bandage.
  • Labor, Class and Education: Costumed interpreters will demonstrate rotating historic trades, like blacksmithing, woodworking, leatherwork, bread baking and wood turning.

Plus enjoy additional daily demos, including:

  • Costumed demonstrations of military tactics, such as musket and cannon firing
  • Historic games, including baseball/rounders, a favorite pastime of soldiers at the fort
  • Early 19th-century laundry
  • Outdoor children’s games, like graces and footraces

The site will also offer a new guided tour each day, rotating between two topics:

  • Bdote/Landscape Tour: Tour the area around the historic fort and discover how the land has changed over time. Learn about the Dakota people and the importance of Bdote in their history.
  • U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 Tour: Explore Fort Snelling’s role in the U.S.-Dakota War and its aftermath while visiting significant locations around the site.

Use of Costuming
MNHS is working to reimagine how clothing is used to interpret this place’s history over time. This summer visitors may notice more staff in polo shirts, which allow flexibility to interpret across historical eras. However, costuming still remains important to the site’s interpretation. Historic costuming will be used in specific daily activities and demonstrations—such as cannon and musket firing demos— as well as large-scale theme events, like Memorial Day Weekend.