After the War of 1812, Americans began to realize the need to defend and settle their new territory. This new country now stretched halfway across the continent, far from the settled seacoast into lands inhabited by Indian tribes and French settlers, and still claimed by Britain. As Americans pushed westward to take over the fur trade, the United States government built a chain of forts in the western Great Lakes to protect and defend the great river routes into the interior. By 1816 a log stockade above the western bank of Green Bay established Fort Howard as a crucial link in the western chain. Fort Howard connected eastern forts like Fort Niagara (New York) and Fort Detroit (Michigan) with frontier outposts like Fort Winnebago (Portage, Wisconsin), Fort Crawford on the Mississippi at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and Fort Snelling at Saint Paul, Minnesota. Each protected a strategic point along the waterways connecting the interior with the settled east. In 1820, the troops moved across the river and formed Camp Smith in what is now Heritage Hill State Historical Park. This area became the first American settlement west of Lake Michigan.