July 12, 1852

Minnesota Territory Congressional Representative Henry Sibley recommends the establishment of a fort on the Minnesota River.

December 7, 1852

A board selects the site of Rock Point for the construction of the fort.


Fort Ridgely is constructed.


Minnesota becomes a state.

August 20, 1862

The fort is attacked by approximately 400 Dakota soldiers, led by Little Crow, during the US-Dakota War of 1862. After a five-hour fight, the forces retreat to the Lower Agency.

August 22, 1862

An estimated 800 Dakota attack and are defeated by cannon fire after hours of fighting. Three soldiers and up to 100 Dakota are killed in the two days of fighting.


Fire demolishes the headquarters/surgeon's quarters building.


Volunteers who had replaced Civil War troops are withdrawn, leaving Ordnance Sergeant William Howard in charge of the unused buildings.


Howard is withdrawn by the Army, leaving the fort unprotected from nearby homesteaders who were in need of building materials for homes and farms. The fort's existence could not be justified after the removal of the Dakota from southern Minnesota following the US-Dakota War.


Congress opens the Fort Ridgely military reservation for settlement.


The state of Minnesota shows interest in developing the fort as a historic site and purchases five acres of the area.


Legislature establishes Fort Ridgely Memorial State Park.


An archeological excavation of the site is led by G. Hubert Smith under the direction of the Minnesota Historical Society, assisted by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Only a log powder magazine and the stone commissary — then in partial ruins — remained in the vicinity. When the excavation was complete, the foundations of eight buildings had been identified. Work begins on the restoration of the commissary.


The Minnesota Historical Society assumes stewardship of the fort's grounds and commissary from the Department of Natural Resources.