A Little Time and a Keyboard: Mill City Museum: Flour Mill History, Mississippi River and City Views and a Fabulous Gift Shop

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Mill City Museum: Flour Mill History, Mississippi River and City Views and a Fabulous Gift Shop

Mill City Museum: Flour Mill History, Mississippi River and City Views and a Fabulous Gift Shop

Mill City Museum: Flour Mill History, Mississippi River and City Views and a Fabulous Gift Shop

Flour mills are an integral part of Minneapolis history. A visit to the Mill City Museum unfolds the history of flour milling in Minneapolis. The museum is housed in the old Washburn A Mill and furnishes an opportunity to see ruins of a mill fire of a neighboring mill.



Diorama detailing the function of each floor at the mill at Mill City Museum
Diorama detailing the function of each floor at the mill.
Mill City Museum provides a variety of engaging and hands-on elements for exploring the mill history of Minneapolis. We did take the tour which allowed us to ascend the tower. At different points, we stopped to learn about the mill. I had never really thought about it before, but each floor had a specialized function. Above is a diorama that you can view at the museum for detail on  each function. Flour dust could be quite dangerous and, in fact, some caught on fire causing an explosion in 1878.

Snow covered mill ruins at the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis
Snow covered mill ruins!

After that explosion, the tower holding the specialized floors was constructed. In 1928, equipment malfunctioned sparking another fire leading towards more mill improvements. The mill would stay open until 1965 when tariffs, transportation rates and energy costs drove the mill industry out of Minneapolis.

Fantastic view atop the tower at Mill City Museum in Minneapolis
Fantastic view atop the tower at Mill City Museum!

From the top of the tower, you will be treated to a fantastic view of Minneapolis along the Mississippi River. Additionally, a docent was available during our visit to point out a variety of landmarks and provide some of the history of the area. Pretty interesting!

Antique tractor used for the wheat fields on display at the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis
Antique tractor used for the wheat fields.

The basement of the museum includes many hands-on exhibits introducing the history of flour mills from growing wheat to production.


The water lab provides a hands-on way to understand how the Mighty Mississippi powered industry including flour mills.

Old mill stone used for grinding wheat on display at Mill City Museum.
Old mill stone used for grinding wheat.

Throughout the museum, you are able to view a mill equipment including this mill stone. It really adds to the understanding to see the equipment up close.


We were pretty surprised to find the Baking Lab inside the museum! If you are lucky, you will be able to try some fresh baked goodies! Bakers were baking brownies while we were there, so we enjoyed wonderfully tempting smells.



We enjoyed perusing all of the displays of nostalgic flour products. I actually did not realize the connection between the flour mills and producing these products but it totally makes sense.

This machine helped keep flour out of the air to helpfully avoid fires.
This machine helped keep flour out of the air to helpfully avoid fires.

We found the Mill City Museum to be pretty interesting and a great way to learn about this part of  Minneapolis history. When you visit, don't forget to stop in the gift shop which has TONS of made in Minnesota items. It is the perfect spot to pick up a unique souvenir. Of course, you can't skip out on the view! Breathtaking!

Mill City Museum: Flour Mill History, Mississippi River and City Views and a Fabulous Gift Shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota

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