Fort Ridgely State Park
72158 Co Rd 30
Fairfax, MN 55332
About Fort Ridgely State Park
Visit historic Fort Ridgely and stroll through the ruins of this once thriving outpost and learn about its history. Visit the cemetery to learn about the history of Fort Ridgely State Park and its past as a military base.
The park offers a lot for recreation: play the nine-hole course, play volleyball and softball, and come for the winter hills, skiing, snowmobiling and sledding.
For more than a century, the land that is now Fort Ridgely State Park has been affected by deforestation, agriculture, grazing and development. The open cliffs above the Minnesota River are the least affected areas of the park. It includes a variety of meadows, each with its own character, and the open cliff overlooking the river.
Some have scattered prairie and wildflowers and grasses, but others are a mixture of grassland, grassland, prairies and other types of vegetation, such as shrubs and trees. The steep slopes of the park's meadows are covered with large oaks, some of which grow outdoors, surrounded only by prairie grass. This area, known as the oak savannah, has disappeared in recent years because it has not only been grazed, but also plowed and fires fought.
Grasses, meadows, prairies, wildflowers and other vegetation such as shrubs and trees grow on the meadows of the park and in other parts of the park.
The last glacier to cover this part of Minnesota retreated 12,000 years ago, leaving behind a layer of kaolinton and sedimentary rock known as glacial tiles. Fort Ridgely State Park is located between two different layers of glacier work and clay deposits have been uncovered along the creek.
In the park you can observe a variety of flora and fauna as well as a number of animal species such as wolves, coyotes, foxes, elks and wolves.
The people were tasked with building a fortress on the edge of the Dakota reservation, named after the three men of the same name who had died in the Mexican War. The steamboat West Newton left Fort Snelling and headed south to reach the plateau over the river in Nicollet County. Steamboats carried soldiers, their families, carpenters and supplies to Fort Riddlely and Fort Ridgeley State Park in North Dakota.
It was completed in 1855 and soon developed into a self-sufficient community, populated by 300 soldiers and civilians, numbering about 2,000 people a year.
The fort played a role in 1862 when it was attacked twice by Dakota Indians, and in 1868. After Fort Ridgely was closed in 1872, some of the buildings were used by local farmers as a storage facility for grain and other agricultural products, as well as for the construction of a railway line.
The US-Dakota conflict was fought on the grounds of Fort Ridgely from 1868 to 1872, and the first purchase of land for the park was made in 1871 by the state of South Dakota for $5,000. Additional acres were purchased in 1911, when the site was declared a state park.
Follow the signs to learn more about the history of the fortress, as well as the current park and its history.