Metis Ox Cart Trail drivers forded the Rum River at this point.

The Red River Ox Cart Trail crossed the Rum River at two places before a bridge was built at Main Street. One spot was at the Rum River South County Park, across the river from old state hospital. There is an Ox Cart Trail interpretive sign on the east side of the river, near the bike trail.

Heading south, the trail then cut through where the Northstar Station now stands, then cut back toward the Mississippi to follow what is now Coon Rapids Boulevard.
When a mill was built near downtown in 1854, the mill dam flooded this upstream ford, but by then much of the traffic had moved to the bridge built in 1853, where Main Street now crosses the river.

In the 19th century, the Red River Métis created a distinctive way of life that combined European, particularly French, cultures with Native American, particularly Ojibwe, ones. In addition to speaking the indigenous languages, as well as French and English, Métis people had their own language, a blend of Ojibwe, Cree and French called Michif, which is still spoken today. They were known for their unique style of fiddle music and the accompanying dance, known as “jigging.” Growing up in indigenous or Métis communities, Métis children learned values important to indigenous cultures, including sharing with kin and respecting elders. Above all, Métis people were unified by a common occupational identity — whether they were buffalo hunters or company clerks, most were a part of the fur trade.

Métis dress became a style used to signify a frontier identity, even among those who were not, strictly speaking, Métis. A finger-woven sash, a long coat, called a “capote,” porcupine quilled or beaded gloves, a bandolier bag and moccasins became the standard dress of those in the fur trade.



Commentary: Rum River South County Park
Creator: Amanda Norman
View File Record
Amanda Norman biographical
Creator: Amanda Norman
View File Record