Near Fairfax in Nicollet County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Four Days From Fort Snelling
The steamer West Newton left St. Paul on April 26, 1853, transporting the first soldiers to the site of the new post. It took four days to get from Fort Snelling to Fort Ridgely. John P. Owens, passenger and editor of The Minnesotian, noted that the river serpentine so much that he expected to find it "tied up in a double bow knot." Owens described crowded conditions on the boat:
Soldiers and soldiers' wives and soldiers' stores and soldiers' equipment—soldiers' cattle and soldiers' dogs are huddled together and strewn about the boat.
Building Fort Ridgely
Once they arrived at the fort's site, the soldiers and some hired civilians cleared the land, milled wood, and quarried stone for the buildings. Originally all the fort's buildings were to be made of local granite. Because of time and cost, however, only two buildings—the barracks and the commissary—were actually granite. The rest were made of wood. The workers found these granite boulders on the prairie and used them as foundation stones.
Erected by the Minnesota Historical Society.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and Castles • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Minnesota Historical Society series list. A significant historical month for this entry is April 1800.
Location. 44° 27.189′ N, 94° 44.094′ W. Marker is near Fairfax, Minnesota, in Nicollet County. Marker can be reached from County Highway 30 1.1 miles west of State Highway 4, on the right when traveling west. Marker is in Fort Ridgely State Park; fee area – a Minnesota state park vehicle permit is required. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 72404 County State Aid Highway 30, Fairfax MN 55332, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Economic Engine (here, next to this marker); This Fort Had a Purpose (a few steps from this marker); A Minority in Their Homeland / U.S.-Dakota Conflict (a few steps from this marker); Reinforcements Arrive (a few steps from this marker); Fort Ridgely (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Ridgely Closes (within shouting distance of this marker); Officers' Quarters—C (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Ridgely State Monument (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fairfax.
More about this marker. caption:
David Geister, Steamer West Newton at Fort Snelling Landing, Spring 1853, 2005
Also see . . .
1. History of Steamboating on the Minnesota River. "To help carry the baggage, [the West Newton] had two barges in tow. The Tiger had also departed from St. Paul on the 25th, and the Clarion on the 26th, each with a couple of barges in tow, heavily loaded with supplies for the new fort and the agencies." (Submitted on January 28, 2014.)
2. Minnesota as Seen by Travelers. Up the Minnesota Valley in 1853. Minnesota Historical Society. "Companies C and K from Fort Snelling and Company E from Fort Dodge, all of the Sixth United States Infantry, were selected to build and garrison the new post." (Submitted on January 28, 2014.)
3. History of Weather Observations - Fort Ridgely, Minnesota 1853-1867. "[Captain] Dana and [Major] Wood envisioned a wall of granite surrounding the post, with blockhouses and large granite buildings. The Army was wary of spending a large sum of money for new forts that would have a doubtful long lifespan. Due to the cost, only two buildings wound up being constructed out of granite: the enormous two story barracks and the commissary." (Submitted on January 28, 2014.)
4. List of Steamboats on the Upper Mississippi River, 1823-1863. West Newton. "...sunk at foot of West Newton Chute, below Alma, in Sept., 1853." (Submitted on January 28, 2014.)
sectionheadg>1. The Naming of Fort Ridgely
By a military order issued on June 27, 1853, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis names the fort in honor of one of three brothers (or perhaps all three) who were killed in the Mexican War.
sources: Minnesota as Seen by Travelers, The Minnesota Book of Days, and History of Weather Observations - Fort Ridgely, Minnesota
— Submitted January 28, 2014.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on January 28, 2014, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 378 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on January 28, 2014, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.