Beginning in 1880 and for 50 years thereafter, Minneapolis was known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World” and more informally, as the “Mill City.”
The city grew up around the mills. In 1870, the city’s population was 13,000. Twenty years later, it had grown to nearly 165,000.
Grain came in via rail lines that stretched across the Northern Plains grain belt into the Dakotas and Canada. Trains also carried the milled flour to Duluth and to eastern U.S. destinations both for export and domestic distribution.
After World War I, the milling industry in Minneapolis began to decline. As the industry moved out of Minneapolis, the old mills fell into disuse. The Washburn A Mill closed in 1965 and was nearly destroyed by fire in 1991. Its ruins were incorporated into the Mill City Museum.
Historic photos of Minneapolis mills.