How many times have you seen a little brown sign on the side of the road and thought, ‘I wonder what that is?’ This past summer I made the turn and followed the signs to the Minnesota Military Museum. Little did we know it would lead us to the base of Camp Ripley. We’ve passed the based a dozen times on the way up north. We’ve seen the tank on the side of the highway and even tried to snap a picture. But we figured getting close was near impossible. Our impulse decision led us to one of the most exciting experiences.
The Minnesota Military Museum
We pulled up to the front gates of the base and with a little uncertainty, we told the gate attendant that we were here to visit the museum. He took our ID’s, gave us a pass for our car and sent us on to the museum. It’s at this point when we got a little gitty at the thought of this adventure. What we didn’t realize about the museum was how big it was. Every time I thought, this is it, I kept finding more to explore.
The Arms Room
Visitors can try on helmets from different wars and put on the uniform. The room is filled with all kinds of different arms from each war that Minnesota took part since Minnesota became a state in 1858. The first included the conflicts with the different Native Americans.
On display was a bunker from WWI. This was a sobering look at what these men went through. They have not glorified nor downplayed what war is like. While it is realistic, it is not graphic.
America at War
The second half of the indoor portion held metals, awards and relics form the battlefield. Uniforms from each conflict along the way. A collection of sand saved that they found on the tires of vehicles from desert storm. Personal letters sent home from the armed servicemen of Minnesota in the war are on display. They have over 80,000 artifacts on display inside from uniforms, weapons, insignia and flags.
They have 60 Macro artifacts including tanks, aircraft, vehicles and artillery pieces. Helicopters Tanks and Artillery guns surrounded the front of the building. They have a rail car was used in WWI to transport horses and men that was donated by the French. Behind the building, you will find barracks that the men used to stay in along with the history of the Jeep, and more vehicles used by our men. This Camp Ripley Museum seemed to go on forever.
The Minnesota Military Museum is located right on the base. Because of this, all adults in the vehicle will need to show their ID. The museum is open daily May – September from 10am – 5pm including national holidays and October – April 9am – 5pm, except national holidays. It cost $5 for adults and $2 for children 6-16. Otherwise, if you are a member of the Minnesota Historical Society or currently serving in a branch of the military, it is free.
The Minnesota Military Museum is not to be missed. For respect for what our troops do each day, to what they have done so we can enjoy our freedoms. I was amazed at the size and scope of what this museum has done. I’m so glad we made this roadside stop to one of the hidden places in MN!
Plan Your Trip: Minnesota Military Museum
Location: Little Falls MN
May – September: 10am – 5pm daily
October – April: 10am – 4pm daily
Cost: $5 Adults, $2 Youth 6-16, Free for Children and active military.
Recommended Reads: Soldier’s Heart: Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers
Other Reads: St Paul Gangsters Looking For A Good Time At The Wabasha Street Caves
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