Tour The Place The Vikings Want To Call Home

May 19, 2011

twin cities army ammunition plant signThe Minnesota Vikings and Ramsey County are rushing to the altar. Their union, if they win the blessings of state lawmakers, would result in a $1.1 billion stadium complex at a shuttered ammunition plant in Arden Hills.

No one knows whether a deal will get done before the regular legislative session adjourns Monday — or during a special session or next year or not at all. And no one knows whether certain forces in Minneapolis will succeed in thwarting Ramsey County’s dalliance with the Vikings.

All the attention on the Arden Hills site caught some fans by surprise. We’re hearing a lot of talk about the TCAAP (Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant) and the surrounding roads that need so much work. On Wednesday, the state estimated that bringing the highways and feeder routes up to snuff would cost more than $130 million.

With all this focus on the old ammo plant, I thought it would be a good time to tour the area and share some background and photos.

The Site
First of all, the place is huge. The entire TCAAP site is nearly 2,400 acres (bigger than all of downtown Minneapolis), though the stadium project would take up only 260 acres.

Some History
The U.S. military opened opened the plant in 1941 to manufacture small-caliber ammunition and projectiles for bigger guns. By the late 1950s, the plant was turned over to private industry. Alliant Techsystems operated the complex until 2004.

TCAAP 1941 Groundbreaking

A groundbreaking ceremony drew crowds to the "Twin Cities Ordnance Plant" in 1941. (Credit: Minneapolis Star Journal; Collection of the Minnesota Historical Society)

TCAAP historical

A worker in action at the ammo plant in 1941. (Credit: Minneapolis Star Journal; Collection of the Minnesota Historical Society)

A Tour

Gate at TCAAP (Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant)

A main gate off U.S. Highway 10.

TCAAP Vikings site

Looking in from the main gate off U.S. Highway 10.

TCAAP site with military vehicles

Military vehicles visible from County Road I on the north side of the complex. The Minnesota National Guard operates the Arden Hills Army Training Site on the complex.

 

TCAAP Wildlife Viewing Area sign

The TCAAP site has undergone expensive cleanup. It's now considered an important wildlife habitat that links other open spaces in the metro area to the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area to the north.

 

TCAAP landscape

There are actual hills in Arden Hills. This is Marsden Lake off Lexington Avenue.

 

TCAAP trail

Ramsey County's Rice Creek trail system touches parts of the site.

TCAAP archery range

The Marsden Archery Range borders the TCAAP site off Lexington Avenue. It's open to the public.

 

Larson house

Part of old Shoreview survives along County Road I at the northeast corner of the site. This brick house was built in 1896. Today it's a housing resource center.

 

Arden Manor

Tucked into an area to the southwest of the TCAAP site is the Arden Manor manufactured housing park.

 

U.S. Highway 10 and County Road 96

The stop lights at U.S. Highway 10 and County Road 96 cause big headaches. This intersection would get redone if the stadium deal goes through.