Despite misgivings about venturing into the traffic of a metropolitan area, we headed into the heart of Minneapolis, Minnesota. After finding a garage parking site (We love the ParkMobile app) and breakfasting at the nearby Farmers Kitchen + Bar, we walked the short distance to the Mill City Museum, a part of the incredible Minnesota Historical Society. We kicked off our visit by viewing the film Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat! which gave us a brief overview of 400 years of local history. Located in the ruins of the Washburn-Crosby flour mill building the museum traces the history of the Falls of St Anthony, the only waterfall along the entire course of the Mississippi River. Owámniyomni is a spiritual place for the Dakota people but by the 1840’s white settlers were constructing saw mills that harnessed the power of the fifty foot falls. By the late 1860’s flour mills were beginning to supplant the saw mills to process a new strain of wheat that could survive Minnesota winters. When the Washburn-Crosby flour took top honors at an 1880 miller’s convention, the company named their product Gold Medal Flour. In 1921 fictional Betty Crocker was representing their products. By 1828 they’d merged with three other mills to become General Mills. Nearby were many more mills including the nearby Pillsbury A Mill. For us a trip around the interior of the museum was a trip back into the kitchens of our childhood with images of Bisquick, Wheaties, the Pillsbury Doughboy, and so much more. But we also got to do some hands-on activities demonstrating things like the power of water or how a lock works. The Flour Tower show wasn’t available but one of us did choose to ride the glass elevator to the 14th floor for some astounding views of the city as well as a better look at the preserved ruins of the old mill. As we left the museum we saw a sign with a link some history of woolen mills in the nearby area. Then from the museum we walked just a couple blocks to the St Anthony Falls Visitor Center and Lock and Dam, part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. There we got to chat with a couple of rangers about the history of the falls, the dam, purposes of the dam, first for hydromechanical power for the mills, then navigation, hydroelectric generation, and now as an environmental barrier for invasive species. This part of Minneapolis is rife with opportunities to learn but we finally decided to quit while everyone was still having fun counting on the chance to return on another trip.

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1 Comment

  1. Amanda Evans

    You’ve really inspired me to give this city a try!

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