Tag Archives: Milling Monday

Flour Power: Party Edition

At 7:30 in the morning, more than 1700 milling employees and their family, friends, and supporters, gathered in Minneapolis, picnics in hand, to board special trains that would carry them to Lake Minnetonka for the fourth annual Head Millers’ Association picnic.

The city’s flour mills were shut down for the day so that all employees had an opportunity to join in the festivities. It was an opportunity to celebrate the growth of milling in Minneapolis. Like any such celebratory event, it included plenty of speeches, as well as a baseball game, music and dancing, a banquet at the Hotel Lafayette, boat rides, and – what else? — flour sack races.

The picnic was covered extensively in the local newspapers, where it was proclaimed “the most successful picnic ever given at Lake Minnetonka.” In the words of a particularly enthusiastic journalist at the Sunday Tribune:

“Whether it was the efficient management, the absence of dissipation and the real pleasure unmixed with dissipation at these gatherings, or because the custom was inaugurated by a class of men to whom Minneapolis feels she owes her marvelous prosperity and rapid advancement, or whether both combined at once,the occurrence of the millers’ picnic was a season for a general turning out on a grand gala day, and each year the number participating has increased, and yesterday occurred the greatest and the best of them all.”

-Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, June 22, 1884

This miniature flour sack invitation now resides in the permanent collection at Hennepin History Museum, a reminder a fantastic summer day at the lake many years ago.

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Milling Monday: Palisade Mill Inventory

For today’s Milling Monday post, we’ve pulled an inventory from our Archives. Labeled the Pillsbury-Washburn Flour Mills Company inventory of Palisade Mill, March 1893, the book  is filled with page after page of data. It is a snapshot of one month in history, a glimpse into the operations of a mill, a company, and a city and county that owed much to the rise of the Minnesota flour industry.

The Palisade Mill was built in 1872 by the Leonard Day Company, and was later purchased and expanded by the Washburn-Crosby Company. It was a Pillsbury property at the time of its closing and dismantling in 1932; eight years later, in 1940, the final remnants of the closed mill were destroyed in a fire.

The Palisade Mill may be long gone, but photographs, documents, and other materials from this and the other mills that played such an important role in local history remain at Hennepin History Museum and other local repositories such as the Mill City Museum and Hennepin County Library’s Special Collections.

To access this or other archival materials from Hennepin History Museum’s archival collection, please contact our archivist, Susan Larson-Fleming. Our reading room is open to the public five days per week, and with advance notice we can have your research materials awaiting your arrival.milling ledger

Milling Monday: Moonlight on the Mississippi

Need a reminder that winter in Minnesota isn’t so bad? We’d like to think that this postcard might help a bit. Sure, it gets cold, but with cold can come tremendous beauty.

This postcard, captioned “the Milling District by moonlight, over the ice bound Mississippi, Minneapolis, Minnesota” evokes some of this beauty, as well as the contrasts still sometimes found in our city and county by the river. In the distance the mills work away, smokestakes blowing, lights on. Out on the river there’s not a soul in sight, and while the ice formations are visually stunning, they are also dangerous; a reminder that while people may have tamed portions of the river to build a milling empire on the Mississippi River, Mother Nature was still present.

Printed by the V.O. Hammon Publishing Company of Minneapolis, this postcard dates to the 1910s.