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Fort Atkinson State Preserve

Fort Atkinson State Preserve in northeast Iowa’s Winneshiek County contains the structural remains and buildings of a frontier-era U.S. military post. Constructed between 1840 and 1842, and occupied until 1849, the post featured prominently in the removal of the Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) people from their ancestral lands. Today, the site is managed by the Iowa state park system as a historically significant site.


PLAN YOUR VISIT

Visit Ft. Atkinson year-round, with daily hours of 4:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.. A museum at the site is open by appointment only.

Explore the structures still in existence including a wooden and stone stockade encompassing the footprint of the site. The remaining buildings are the North Barracks, Northeast Cannon House, Southwest Cannon House and a Powder Magazine. In addition to the Fort, the state park system maintains the grounds of the Saint James Church west of the Fort Atkinson tree nursery, and the First Congregational Church Southwest of the Fort Atkinson Library.

Take part in the Fort Atkinson Rendezvous, held annually during the last full weekend of September. The event recreates life on the 1840s Iowa frontier with authentic buckskinners, U.S. Army dragoons, black powder shoots, crafts, contests and demonstrations. Although a trappers' rendezvous would have actually taken place in the mountainous west and not in Iowa, the presence of an authentic frontier fort gives 20th century Iowans the opportunity to witness and recreate frontier life.

History of the Fort
The U.S. Army began construction of Ft. Atkinson on May 31, 1840 by establishing a camp at the site. The fort was meant to provide neutral territory for interactions with the Winnebago People as they were resettled from Wisconsin into northeast Iowa. Resettlement played prominently in U.S. policy in the 1800s; Ft. Atkinson is historically significant in understanding the negative treatment of Native Peoples in American history.

Completed in 1842, the fort included 24 buildings and a 11 foot, 9 inch stockade wall. Fourteen additional buildings outside the wall completed the fort. On June 20, 1846, the U.S. Army re-assigned regular army troops out of Fort Atkinson to fight in the war with Mexico. On July 15, 1846, Iowa volunteers staffed the fort and continued to carry out their duties until the post was abandoned after the Winnebago People were again removed from the area. The last company of infantry marched out of its gates on February 14, 1849. *Excerpts from the Fort Atkinson Technical Report, by Bradley Williams.

As early as 1900, local residents recognized the significance of Ft. Atkinson and worked to protect the site. In 1921 the State of Iowa took ownership of the property and established it as part of the state park system.




Fort Atkinson State Preserve
Physical address:
303 2nd St NW
Ft Atkinson, IA 52144

Contact information:
c/o Volga River State Recreation Area
10225 Ivy Road, Fayette, IA 52142
ph. 563-425-4161
Volga_River@dnr.iowa.gov