So Minnesota: Military Road’s path through Minnesota

So Minnesota: Military Road

So Minnesota: Military Road

A former road that traveled through our state is a path to our past and future.

A century before the Interstate system rolled across the nation, Military Road ran across Minnesota.

“It was muddy,” Lin Strong with the Chisago County Historical Society said. “It was rocky. It was rough to say the least.”

In 1852 the U.S. Federal Government began building Military Road from near Hastings to Superior, Wisconsin along the Saint Croix River. Intended as a highway for troop movement, Military Road was one of the first roads in Minnesota territory early settlers used.

“You’re talking horse-drawn stage coaches or ox-covered wagons, that’s the only transport there was to the north,” Strong said.

When Minnesota achieved statehood in 1858 it took over the road, but the state ran out of money to take care of it.

“The road never became good,” Strong said. “I would say poor at the best.” 

Military Road would soon disappear after the railroad took over in 1870. Now – more than 150 years later – parts of Military Road can still be seen at Wild River State Park in Chisago County.