Camp Ripley History
Camp Ripley is an active 53,000-acre military and civilian training facility operated by the Minnesota National Guard. It is located north of Little Falls, Minn. near the Junction of Highways 371 and 115. The location of the camp was selected in 1929 by Ellard A. Walsh, Adjutant General of the State of Minnesota and took its name from the earlier frontier-era Fort Ripley (1), which in turn was named after Maine congressman and distinguished War of 1812 veteran Eleazar W. Ripley. The remains of the old Fort Ripley are contained within the new camp's property boundaries.
Construction of the camp facilities began in 1930. Between 1934 and 1942 the Federal Works Project Administration (WPA) did most of the construction on the post. The most visible WPA project is the main gate, the gate has four black granite towers and the two largest towers are 40 feet tall. Connected to the main gate is a black granite fence that was constructed of dry laid stones with octagonal turrets spaced out along the fence line.
In 1940 the post was capable of housing 12,000 men but it was built as a summer training facility and unsuited for housing troops in the severe Minnesota winters. The post was federalized at the beginning of World War II but because of the cold weather limitations it was returned to the State in 1943. Most federal troops were gone by October 1943.
Post World War II the camp was further built out and converted to a year round training facility with heated barracks and improved infrastructure.
Active Military Installation. Visting the Camp: The Minnesota Military Museum, located at Camp Ripley, is open to the general public as well as military personnel.
Group tours can usually be arranged for other times upon request. There is no charge for admission but a $3 donation is requested from adults who are not presently in the military.
North of the camp at Brainerd there is a memorial to the members of the 194th Tank Battalion who died and sufferd on the Bataan Death March of WWII.
Escort is require to visit the Fort Ripley (1) site and the camp cemetery.
Visited: 9-11 Sep 2013
Camp Ripley Picture Gallery