• Home
  • Summer 2016 Newsletter

Summer 2016 

President's Column

2016 Board of Directors


James Miller,
Jeffrey Olson, Vice President
Malcolm McDonald, Treasurer
Linda Michie, Secretary
Todd Adler, Past President

Board Members

Susanne Adler
Todd Adler
John Andrews
Dr. Jerald Dosch
Matt Fluger
Carol Forbes
David Gilberstadt
Jonathan Morgan
Mary Ann Newman
Dick Nicholson
Stephen Osman
Dr. Nelson Rhodus
John Rupp

Honorary Director
Charles W Arnason

Larry Peterson, Fort Snelling State Park

Tom Pfannenstiel, Fort Snelling & Sibley Historic Sites

The Friends of Fort Snelling is holding its third annual dinner on September 10th. This date, as you may recall, marks the founding of Fort Snelling in 1820. The bicentennial of the founding is four years away.

The founding of Fort Snelling is of regional and national significance. It marks the transition of our region from the time of explorers, fur traders, and influence of the French and British to the beginning of the United States’ western expansion and settlement of the region.

Mary Lu Seidel, Chicago Field Director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will be our keynote speaker and discuss the significance of the National Treasure designation of Fort Snelling that occurred a few months ago. Representatives will be on hand from the Minnesota Historical Society, Fort Snelling State Park, and the Northern Star Council of the Boy Scouts of America to discuss their Fort Snelling projects. The dinner will begin with a reception at 5:00, dinner at 6:00, and program at 7:00, and will be held at the Historic Fort Snelling Visitor Center. Visit our event page to learn more and register today.

Early planning for the role of the Friends of Fort Snelling for the bicentennial of its founding have included discussions in three basic areas:

First, to promote and publicize the recognition of the significance and relevance of the bicentennial broadly throughout the community; and

Second, to support and help promote bicentennial activities of the various organizations at Fort Snelling including the Minnesota Historical Society’s renovation of the Lower Post, State of Minnesota for the State Park and redevelopment of the Upper Post, the Northern Star Council’s construction of a headquarters and leadership facility near its Base Camp, and others; and 

Third, to identify and initiate other opportunities for events and education about and promotion of the history of the Fort.

If you are not yet a member of the Friends of Fort Snelling please join by using the membership application included with this newsletter or by signing up at our web site: www.fortsnelling.org. If you are already a member please renew your membership. And don’t forget to sign up for and attend our dinner.

Jim Miller,

Legislative Update - Historic Fort Snelling Funding Remains Under Consideration
David Kelliher - Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society’s request for $34 million in state funding to revitalize Historic Fort Snelling remains under consideration as state leaders continue to negotiate a special session to pass a capital investment bill.Talks among top leaders seemed to progress with increased optimism in July,although details have not been finalized on which projects might be included.Governor Dayton has suggested that a special session may be unworkable after August 16th so more news may come soon. Check to www.mnhs.org/HFS2020 for updates.

Historic Fort Snelling received strong support during the regular legislative session and was included Governor Dayton’s recommendations. Before adjourning, the House and Senate considered a capital investment bill, but the session concluded May 23 without its passage. Since then, Governor Dayton included Historic Fort Snelling in his list of priorities for a special session.

We will continue to advocate for the Historic Fort Snelling project at every opportunity. Advocacy by Friends of Fort Snelling members has been much appreciated and is still welcome, even if you have already done so. You can send a message in support of the project to state leaders and thank Governor Dayton for his support at www.mnhs.org/HFS2020.

Please Join us for the Friends of Fort Snelling Annual Dinner

The annual dinner is a terrific opportunity to meet other people that are passionate about Fort Snelling and to learn more about whats happening throughout the area. 

The keynote presentation from Mary Lu Seidel, Field Director at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will focus on what it means to be a National Treasure. She will shed light on how Fort Snelling can benefit from this designation, and look into how other sites capitalize on their National Treasure status.

When: Saturday, September 10th

Where:  Historic Fort Snelling Visitor Center 
200 Tower Avenue 
St. Paul, MN 55111

Agenda: 5:00pm Reception (cash bar)
6:00pm Dinner
7:00pm Program
8:00pm Adjourn

Click the links below to:

Register Online


Print and Mail Registration 

Upcoming Events:

For a list of all upcoming events at Fort Snelling please visit our events page!

Featured events:

 Important Links

DNR Logo

Minnesota Historical Society

Base Camp

Official seal of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Dark2Dawn 2016 - Bicycling Through History
Historic Fort Snelling
August 20, 2016

World War I Weekend
Historic Fort Snelling
August 20 & 21, 2016

Archery in the Parks
Fort Snelling State Park
August 20, 2016

I Can Fish: Fishing Friday
Fort Snelling State Park
August 26, 2016 

Ripe Edibles
Fort Snelling State Park
August 27, 2016

Fort Snelling State Park
August 28, 2016

Support the Fort

With the commitment by the Friends of Fort Snelling to help plan the 2020 bicentennial comes an increased need for resources and support. If you, or someone you know are interested in becoming a member or donating to the Friends of Fort Snelling please visit:

Book Review: Fort Snelling Then and Now: The WWII Years
Review provided by Carol M. Forbes, Member of the Board, Friends of Fort Snelling

Are you still looking for a book to read before Fall arrives? You should check out Fort Snelling Then and Now: The World War II Years by Stephen E. Osman. Published in 2011 with financial assistance from the Arts and Cultural History Fund, this quick and interesting read is now in its 6th printing. Mr. Osman spent three decades as the Manager of the Historic Fort Snelling site and was the last resident of the Officer’s Quarters on the Lower Post. This extensive commitment and knowledge of the entire Fort Snelling area adds personal knowledge to the photos and narrative regarding the historic buildings.

Beginning with a discussion of how the Fort inducted nearly 300,000 men and women during World War II and how the Fort underwent changes in preparation, Mr. Osman provides the reader with an interesting and easily followed description of the history up until the beginning of World War II. As we drive by today, it is astonishing to think that in 1942 there were over 1000 soldiers and civilians working to process 800 soldiers each day. While housing all the necessary functions required to move the new recruits through the steps to mobilize, the Fort also served one particularly unique function. The Military Intelligence Language School graduated 6000 students, mainly in Japanese. The other chapters offer detailed descriptions of the Lower Post, the Quartermaster Yards and Supply Depots, the Upper Post and the Reception Center, Officer’s Club, Ranges and National Cemetery. The photographs (both “vintage” and more recent) serve to enhance the accompanying narrative. Whether you have a relative who was stationed at Fort Snelling during the World War II years or you have taken a walking tour, check out this book!

This book is available at the Minnesota History Center gift shop, the gift shops at Historic Fort Snelling, Fort Snelling State Park and the Boy Scouts Basecamp. You can also order the book online by visiting our online store

Osman was assisted by Matt Flueger who took on the task of finding old photos and when possible, matching them to new photos. Todd Hintz has a fine collection of historic postcards and provided some of the images you see.

The Old Guard at Fort Snelling
By Todd Adler

The Third Infantry Regiment is one of the oldest units in the United States Army, tracing its origins back to the Pennsylvania Regiment, which was organized as by Congress in 1784 to help protect the fledgling nation.  In 1789 created the national army and the Pennsylvania Regiment became the First Regiment.  In 1815 the army was again

reorganized and the First, Fifth, Seventeenth, and Twenty-eight Regiments were combined into the Third Regiment.  Through them the Third inherited their legacy, carrying forward their history, traditions, and battle pennants to the present day.

This is the 3rd Infantry in formation, getting ready to deploy to Cuba as part of the SpanishAmerican War, April, 1898. From the Hennepin History Museum.The Third's history with Fort Snelling starts in 1888 after spending much of the 1870s in Missouri and Pennsylvania to quell riots and Montana in action against the Indian tribes.

In October 1898 they were sent to Leech Lake when trouble brewed.  Marshals had gone to arrest Bugonaygeshig ("Hole-In-The-Day") of the Pillager band as a material witness for a trial against a bootlegger, a fight broke out, and Bugonaygeshig escaped to his home on the east end of Leech Lake.  The marshals quickly wired higher authority, saying they need additional help to get the job done.  At first the Fort just sent twenty soldiers, to whom it was quickly explained that this wasn't enough.  An additional fifty-five soldiers arrived they set off on a pair of steamers pushing a barge packed with soldiers.

As the soldiers milled about the chief's cabin someone's rifle went off.  Indians who were hidden in the brush around the cabin thought they were being fired on and returned fire, killing five soldiers, two officers, and wounding ten more.  When the opportunity presented itself, the soldiers withdrew with their casualties.  No records exist as to whether any Indians were killed, but it's doubtful there were any casualties.

Bugonaygeshig, about 1897. From the Minnesota Historical Society.Bugonaygeshig was never arrested.

In February 1899 the 3rd Infantry left Fort Snelling for many years, getting duty in the Philippines, Alaska, New York, and the Mexican border to thwart the Poncho Villa incursions.  They finally came back to Fort Snelling in 1921, marching 1100 miles from Camp Sherman and arriving in November in the middle of a snow storm. 

Some things never change.

Between the wars the regiment and Minnesota developed a wonderful relationship.  In those years army units tended to recruit soldiers from the surrounding community and train them at the local post, unlike today's system where soldiers are sent to basic training and advanced training at central camps around the country.  Fort Snelling also developed a reputation as the country club of the Army, with a nine hole golf course, polo, officers' and enlisted men swimming pools, easy trolley access to St. Paul and Minneapolis, hockey and ball fields, a hunting preserve, and so on.  Soldiers could see first run movies in an air conditioned theater on the post and the regimental band played many concerts for soldiers and civilians alike.  It was good duty if you could get it.

The 3rd Infantry Regiment finally left Fort Snelling for good in 1942 as WWII gripped the world.  Unfortunately the Army is not sentimental and inactivated the 3rd Infantry in 1946, breaking a tradition that spans back hundreds of years of a sergeant teaching privates in a continuous chain.  The regiment was reconstituted in 1948 and today serves as the guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery.

The Sibley Historic Site has begun a new era – the Site is being managed by the Dakota County Historical Society

If you haven't visited the Sibley Historic Site recently, you will be in for a surprise if you go there this summer.   Thanks to the work of many dedicated volunteers and the support of the Friends of the Sibley Historic Site and the Dakota County Historical Society, the appearance of the gardens and grounds at the Site are vastly improved.  One of our board members Ann Essling, wrote about this for our recent Friends newsletter:

Seed Money Anyone?  By Ann Essling

Come and see. The grounds at the site are looking better and better! The Minnesota Historical Society trimmed the trees and removed dead ones.  To help the garden grow better, the Friends authorized expenditures of funds to help beautify the gardens at the site.

The Mendota Heights Garden Club is resurrecting the garden between the Sibley and Faribault houses with plantings that bloom at different times all summer long. Nine members have spent hours and hours preparing the ground and planting over 180 plants.  They planted a “Blueberry Muffin” viburnum for its early white flowers, and late-summer blue berries which birds love. Its shiny green leaves contrast nicely with the dark color of two miniature Ninebarks and light spring green of St. John’s Wort, and its happy yellow flowers. All are native plants, although modern cultivars to make maintenance easier.

Each end of the long garden inscribes a circle; one planted with spring flowers (iris and peony), the other outlined by late-blooming Russian sage, Baptisia, and sedums. The entire garden is sprinkled with varying blues of catmint and salvia, and tall white spires of Liatris. An early white hydrangea is already blooming next to the path lined with Russian cypress; the path through garden is of cedar chip mulch.  Members of the garden club are supplying plants from their own gardens: Siberian iris, monarda, cone-flower, Coreopsis, black-eyed Susan, daylilies, daisies, sedums of many kinds. They hope to add another 100+ flowers to fill the bed.

The Site is open on Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day from 1-4 p.m.

Contact Us: Office: (651) 300-6597 Email: info@fortsnelling.org

Friends of Fort Snelling, Fort Snelling State Park Association
380 Jackson Street, Suite 287
Saint Paul, MN 55101

Contact Us:
Office: (651) 455-6100

Address:  Sherry Howe
7926 Barbara Avenue
Inver Grove Heights, MN  55077

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software