History and Culture

Re-enactors, dressed as 1820s soldiers, push a cannon.
Re-enactors at Historic Fort Snelling wheel a cannon.

NPS/Gordon Dietzman


The following sites are among those that best illustrate the rich history of the area. There are many historic sites, however, but these may be the places to start learning about the fascinating people, events, and natural history that changed the world.

Historic Fort Snelling

200 Tower Avenue, Fort Snelling History Center, St. Paul MN 55111
Historic Fort Snelling once lay on the northwest frontier. This land was home to the Dakota, but successive waves of other nationalities—Spanish, French, English, and Americans—came to dominate trade and laid claims to the land itself. It is a story of economic and military competition, of justice and injustice, and forms the foundation to help us understand who we are and how we arrived at this point in history. Closed seasonally with limited hours in shoulder seasons.


Fort Snelling State Park (Pike Island)

101 Snelling Lake Road, St. Paul MN 55111
Fort Snelling State Park is a special place. To the Mdewakanton Dakota, Bdote Minisota (the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers) lay directly over the center of the Earth and directly below the center of the universe. It was here that the Dakota believe their creation occurred and it was here, amidst their sacred sites, that they were imprisoned following the Dakota Conflict of 1862.

Mill Ruins Park/Mill City Museum

Mill Ruins Park: 102 Portland Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Mill City Museum: 704 South 2nd St. Minneapolis, MN 55401
Harnessing the power of St. Anthony Falls permitted a flourishing flour milling district to spring up. This enormous complex of mills fed much of North America and western Europe, but it also spurred development of the Great Plains, changed transportation systems and development, and even the river itself. Find an introduction to this important part of our history by visiting Mill Ruins Park and Mill City Museum,

Meeker Lock and Dam

2198 E River Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55414. (Park near the intersection of SE Emerald St and E River Parkway. There is a rough trail that leads down the slope to the river.)
The remains of the short-lived Meeker Lock and Dam stand testament to an era of rapid economic development and technological changes on the river. Competing interests--navigation, hydro-electric power, private and public interests--sparked a national discussion about the public good--who could use the rivers and who would benefit from them.



The following sites are locations within the Minnesota National River and Recreation Area that offer art, dance, plays, and other cultural experiences.

Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts

6666 East River Road, Fridley, MN 55432
The staff and guest artists at Banfill-Locke create art exhbits and provide art classes to the public.

Guthrie Theater

818 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55415
The Guthrie Theater hosts plays on three stages, includes restaurant with pre-show dining, several bars, great views of the Minneapolis skyline. Besides world-class plays, the Guthrie overlooks the historic mill district of the Mississippi River. Don’t miss the wonderful views of this vantage point. Access to the "Endless Bridge" is free.

Harriet Island

200 Dr. Justus Ohage Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55107
Harriet Island is a community meeting place for many different types of activities--including concerts, charity runs, and ethnic events—all on the Mississippi River.

Last updated: February 27, 2020

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Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101


This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

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