Coldwater Spring

Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
5601 Minnehaha Park Drive South, Fort Snelling, MN 55111
Located between Minnehaha Regional Park and Highway 55
Coldwater Spring Reservoir

Coldwater Spring was added to the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area in January 2010, with the goal of restoring the landscape to an oak prairie and public park. An extensive renovation, which included the removal of twelve buildings and the restoration and seeding of twelve acres of prairie and one acre of wetlands, began in early 2011 and was largely completed by August 31, 2012. During the course of the restoration, more than 1,000 trees, shrubs, grasses and wildflowers were planted on the property The restoration work, however, will continue for many years.

This area served as an important crossroads for American Indians and traders using both the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers as a strategic crossroads for commerce and travel. During the construction of Fort Snelling, soldiers camped at Coldwater Spring, using it for their fresh water supply. By 1825, construction of the fort had been completed and soldiers had moved from Coldwater into the fort.

The fort relied on horse-drawn water wagons and then railcars to deliver water from Coldwater Spring up until the 1870s. By 1879, the fort was expanded under the then Secretary of War, Alexander Ramsey. The fort's expansion demanded a more efficient water supply system, and in 1880, the Army established a formal waterworks at the spring. Coldwater served as the water source for the Army until the 1920s when the Army turned to the City of Saint Paul to supply water for the fort.

The property was last home to the Bureau of Mines: Twin Cities Research Center. The buildings were constructed primarily during the late 1950's through the early 1960's.The Research Center developed significant mining safety equipment, mining technologies and mineral extraction processes used worldwide. Federal funding for the Bureau of Mines was permanently eliminated in 1996; by 1997 the buildings were vacated and remained vacant until their demolition in 2011.

Activities: The park features an ADA-compliant trail for walking to Coldwater Spring. Additionally, there are many opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography. Coldwater Park also features Ranger on Call, a mobile tour of the area and its history.

Hours: 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Contact Information: Call the Mississippi River Visitor Center at (651) 293-0200.

Rules and Regulations: See the Superintendent's Compendium.


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