The Fort Ridgely historic site, south of Fairfax, features a museum and preserved building foundations that tell the history of 19th-century relations between the U.S. government, the Dakota Sioux and new settlers to Minnesota. In 1851, due to pressure from the U.S. Government, the Eastern Dakota sold 35 million acres of land in southern and western Minnesota and relocated to a reservation along the Minnesota River. Fort Ridgely was constructed in 1853 to create a military presence where new settlers were moving into former Dakota lands.
The Fort was manned during the U.S. Civil War and was the site of two battles during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. The old fort commissary building, which was reconstructed by the Veteran Conservation Corps in the 1930s, now houses a museum.
The Fort Ridgely site is located in Fort Ridgely State Park, which offers plentiful recreation including a nine-hole golf course, hiking and horseback riding trails, volleyball and softball fields, fishing and camping. The site is open four days a week, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.