minneapolis-history
Jan 24, 2018 • By

Wondering about our landmarks in Minneapolis? 

The city where General Mills got its start will soon have a few more visitors than usual.

You may have heard a thing or two about a really Big Game coming up in Minneapolis. It’s an event that will bring thousands of people to the city for a few days, smack dab in the middle of a Minnesota winter.

But we think it’s actually a super time for those visitors and tourists to get outdoors and see some of the landmarks that have a connection to General Mills.

So we wanted to highlight and explain some of them, which are located just a few blocks from the stadium where the game will be played.

We’re doing that in a few ways in this post.

First, our latest “Inside the General Mills Archives” video takes you down to the Minneapolis riverfront, with Jessica Faucher and Katie Gamache from our Archives team. They share their perspective on our connection to Minneapolis, and historic photos and images.

In addition to that, we’re also sharing a podcast (below) and this roundup of what visitors to Minneapolis most often ask us about:

St. Anthony Falls  

The Falls of Saint Anthony look nothing like they did when the first people living in the area spotted them. But without the rushing water over jagged chunks of rock, General Mills would not exist.

st-anthony-falls

The only natural major waterfall on the Upper Mississippi, water from St. Anthony Falls powered our flour mills that were built on both sides of the Mississippi River in the 1800s. Today, you see the series of locks and dams in the area, built in the 1950s and 1960s.

Stone Arch Bridge 

Your best view of St. Anthony Falls will come from a walk, jog or bike ride on the Stone Arch Bridge.

stone-arch-bridge

Built in 1882 and 1883 by railroad baron James J. Hill, the bridge was a crucial connection for the mills in Minneapolis. Its impressive arches, made of granite and limestone, make a popular photo backdrop during a visit to the city anytime of year.

Washburn “A” Mill / Mill City Museum 

Cadwalladar Washburn, the founder of Washburn-Crosby – the company that would become General Mills, built his first flour mill along the Mississippi River in 1866 (that means we celebrated our 150th birthday in 2016).

mill-city-museum

Today, you can see the area where his first mill, and others, were located. Washburn’s larger and first “A” mill exploded in 1878. He rebuilt another, even bigger, “A” Mill on the site, and today you see what is left of it (a fire damaged most of the mill 1991). There’s also Mill Ruins Park, below it, that you can explore.

Mill-ruins-park

Mill Ruins Park

The Minnesota Historical Society turned the Washburn property, including the fire-damaged sections, into the Mill City Museum (more on that, below).

The Gold Medal Flour signs 

When you look above the museum and former Washburn mills, you can’t miss the company’s two large Gold Medal Flour signs.

gold-medal-flour-signs

They provide another great photo op, especially when they are lit in the evening and early morning. The first version of the Gold Medal signs were first placed up there in 1910.

The Pillsbury sign

Across the river, you see another sign that has stood above the city for many years.

pillsbury-sign

Since Pillsbury competed with General Mills in the flour business, as the city of Minneapolis came of age, the company made sure residents could see its sign, too. The current Pillsbury sign dates back to 1940.

Pillsbury “A” Mill 

Below the sign, and still standing, you can walk past the massive Pillsbury “A” Mill.

pillsbury-a-mill

Built in 1881, it was even larger than Washburn-Crosby’s fairly new mill at that time. It was in operation until 2003.

Since then, the entire Pillsbury complex was renovated into apartments. The “A Mill Artist Lofts” have to be one of the most unique places anyone in the world could call home.

Gold Medal Park 

Let’s wrap up our Minneapolis tour by taking you back to the Washburn side of the Mississippi, not far from the stadium.

Gold Medal Park, right next to the Guthrie Theater, sits on what was once railroad tracks for trains and rail cars that went into our mills.

gold-medal-park

Dedicated in 2007, the park took the Gold Medal name as a nod to General Mills’ oldest brand and early role in helping establish the city of Minneapolis as a thriving global business hub.

Milling-District-1911

1911

As I mentioned earlier, we devoted this month’s episode of our podcast to the Mill City Museum. You can learn how it honors the way Minneapolis and its milling industries made an impact.

Listen (13 min)

SHOW NOTES – Episode 29: January 24, 2018 

Link: Mill City Museum

Photos: Mill City Museum

Link: Events at Mill City Museum

Video: Mill City Museum Field Trip

Video: Mill City Museum; Minneapolis MN

Video: January 2018/Inside the General Mills Archives

Link: PODCAST: Our founder, our general

Link: The Gold Medal signs that salute our hometown

Link: New life for the mighty Pillsbury A Mill

Discover more about our past on GeneralMills.com or in the History category here on “A Taste of General Mills.”

It’s easy to listen to our podcast when you’re on the go. Just listen on any podcast app on your mobile device (search for General Mills) or through Apple Podcasts or right here on our blog.

Have an idea for a story you’d like to see on “A Taste of General Mills”? Email us at contact.blog@genmills.com.

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