Old Fort Ripley was built in 1849 to offer some protection to the Winnebago Indians, who were relocated to central Minnesota under the machinations of Henry M. Rice. Rice was one of the co-partners in building the first Little Falls dam. The fort protected settlers in 1862, when Chief Hole-in-the-Day planned to attack. Hole-in-the-Day was in communication with Chief Little Crow, who was the leader of the Sioux Uprising. The two men, though sworn enemies, made a pact to attack white settlers on the same day. Hole-in-the-Day's attack was thwarted by Father Pierz, the Rev. John Johnson (born Enmegahbowh), soldiers at the fort, and people from the chief's own tribe. The fort closed in 1877 due to a lack of activity.
In 1929, General E. A. Walsh selected land near old Fort Ripley for a National Guard training camp. Initial construction was completed in 1930, with the first troops stationed there in 1931. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the granite gates and walls at the entry to Camp, using granite from quarries in Morrison County.
Camp Ripley is known for its winter training, with soldiers coming from as far away as Norway to take part. Along with military training, Camp Ripley is nationally-known for its environmental research and education. Extensive surveys of the plant and animal life have been done at Camp Ripley, which covers over 52,000 acres.
~Mary Warner, Little Falls, MN
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