Mill city: a visual history of the Minneapolis mill district

    Full details

    Authors & editors

    Pennefeather, Shannon M [Author]

    Publisher Minnesota Historical Society
    Year of publication 2003

    English (main text)

    Medium Book

    Cereal processes > Flour milling
    People and communities > People, families & firms



    Scope & contentThis book tells the story of the city of St Anthony and its famous waterfalls. The St Anthony Falls is the only significant waterfall on the Mississippi River. In the 19th century, the power of the falls was harnessed to power saw mills and then flour mills.
    Minneapolis became the leading producer of lumber from 1848 to 1887 and the United States leading supplier of flour from 1880 to 1930.

    Primary documents were used to describe innovations in water power and developments in the milling process [roller flour milling]. By 1876, 18 flour mills had been built on the west bank of the river below the falls.

    A section on Flour Milling at the Falls incorporates first-hand accounts and eye-witness statements of life in the mills and this industrial city and is split into several sections:
    Pp 92-95 Improvements in the milling process using a middlings purifier;
    Pp 96-97 Ironworks describes the North Star Iron Works and Otis A. Pray, a millwright who moved to Minneapolis in 1857, where he specialized in flour mill machinery, constructing mills for William W. Eastman and Cadwallader C. Washburn, and installing the first roller mills in the North-west and building the Minneapolis Iron works in 1878 which provided the mills with machine parts;
    Pp 98-99 Bonanza farms which grew the wheat for the mills on an industrial scale;
    Pp 100-105 Washburn - a mill explosion in 1878 that killed 18 workers and destroyed one-third of the milling capacity of Minneapolis;
    Pp 106-111 Bigger and better mills describes how the mills were rebuilt with new milling technology to create less dust and to extract it;
    Pp 112-119 Millers, packers and sweepers describes life in the mills and the creation of the International Union of Flour and Cereal Mill Employees;
    Pp 120-123 Packaging the flour describes the changes from packing in flour barrels to using cloth and paper sacks by 1915;
    Pp 124-125 Flour milling giants describes the biggest flour mills and the decline in the business after 1930 in favour of Buffalo, New York.

    Copies held

    Accession no. 230096

    • Shelf location: C152-PEN
    • Donor: Bryan McGee