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Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. Please consider reading our editorial policy to understand how and why we publish the resources we do.

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Part of our in-depth series exploring Sioux Nation Forts

Picture of Fort Ridgely

Fort Ridgely Historic Site
72404 County Road 30
Fairfax, MN 55332
Phone: 507-426-7888 or 507-934-2160
[email protected]
History

In 1853, the U.S. military started construction on Fort Ridgely, near the southern border of the new reservation and northwest of the German settlement of New Ulm. The fort was designed as a police station to keep peace as settlers poured into the former Dakota lands.

Picture of the Execution of the 38 Sioux Indians at Mankato in December 1862
Execution of the 38 Sioux Indians at Mankato in December 1862. Photo from the book, Encyclopedia of American Indian Wars, by Jerry Keenan.

Nine years later, unkept promises by the U.S. government, nefarious practices by fur traders and crop failure all helped create tensions that erupted into the U.S.-Dakota war in August 1862. Dakota forces attacked the fort twice-on Aug. 20 and Aug. 22. The fort that had been a training base and staging ground for Civil War volunteers suddenly became one of the few military forts west of the Mississippi to withstand a direct assault. Fort Ridgely's 280 military and civilian defenders held out until Army reinforcements ended the siege.

Picture of Fort Ridgely
Picture from the book, Encyclopedia of Indian Wars, by Gregory F.Michno.
Hours

The park itself is open daily from 8am to 10pm.

Fort Ridgely Historic site is summer only

Approximately Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Open Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day.
During the winter season there are no regular office hours.

Picture of Fort Ridgely

School season may vary.

Admission

$7 adults; $5 senior citizens, and free for children under 18 and MHS members. State park vehicle permits are required.

Connumities and Related Links
Minnesota Historical Society/Fort Ridgely
Fort Ridgely State Park

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