Dakota County Historical Society
To preserve, interpret and promote the history of Dakota County.

Location: Picnic Island, in the Fort Snelling Historic District

The Cantonment New Hope Site was a stockade fort built by Col. Leavenworth near Mendota, at the site of today’s Picnic Island, to assemble materials for the construction of Fort Snelling. When the troops came in August and September of 1819 with Col. Leavenworth for construction of Fort Snelling, they spent the Fall and Winter, as well as two following Winters, in a barracks of log houses on the Dakota County side of the Minnesota River, about a third of a mile southeast from the site of the Fort Snelling. This site was also called “St. Peter’s Cantonment” taking both the French and English names of the river. The camp was also called “New Hope,” as a show of optimism for the wilderness outpost’s future. In the Spring when flood waters would rise, troops staying at the Cantonment would have to abandon it for another camp on high ground called “Camp Coldwater.” Fort Snelling (then called “Fort Saint Anthony” for near-by Saint Anthony Falls) was ready for occupation in 1822, at which point the Cantonment had served its purpose.

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