Zebulon Pike and his team of Dam’d Rascals left St. Louis, Missouri on August 19, 1805, traveling on a seventy-foot keelboat up the Mississippi. They reached the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers on September 21, where Pike negotiated a treaty with the Dakota tribe, purchasing the future site of Fort Snelling. The expedition proceeded further upriver, stopping to construct a winter camp at the mouth of the Swan River, south of present-day Little Falls, on October 16. On December 10, they continued upstream along the frozen river on foot, visiting several British North West Company fur posts along the way.
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