Saturday, June 9, 2012

Try this tour: Minnesota's Dakota War

While the Civil War sesquicentennial gets a ton of attention (and a bunch of great tours) this year, here in Minnesota we're also marking the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War -- a conflict that led to the largest mass-execution in U.S. history. The war took place across a broad swath of the Minnesota River valley in the summer of 1862 and evidence of it has mostly disappeared.

U.S.-Dakota War audio tour stops along Minnesota River
Valley Scenic Byway.  (from MNHS)
The Minnesota Historical Society just launched a cell phone tour that brings the stories of the war and the tumultuous years around it to life in places all over the valley -- like St. Peter, New Ulm, the Lower Sioux Agency and Montevideo. It's a good example of an effective scenic byway tour -- letting a story unfold as the miles pass by -- and I'm excited to drive a big chunk of the route next weekend. I'll post a review when I'm done, but I can already tell that MNHS makes wide use of their extensive oral history collection. Placecasting is an excellent way to unlock the unique insight of those dusty old tapes.

In the meantime, here's the map. The brochure (.pdf link) that accompanies it is also a good thumbnail overview of the war. No map is really necessary though: call 1-888-601-3013 to sample the tour. Use #01 for the overview.


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