Minneapolis is no longer the Flour Milling Capital of the World, but you can still see remnants of the era from when it used to hold that title by visiting Mills Ruins Park.
As a fan of visiting places that aren’t necessarily on people’s travel bucket lists, it’s a huge reason I decided to explore Minneapolis. Who even goes there, right? But it turns out that in the 19th century, this half of the Twin Cities was put on the map because of its flour milling industry! I think that’s really interesting and it’s something I wouldn’t have learned if I didn’t travel to Minnesota.
I visited Mills Ruins Park on a weekday to see ruins of old mills that used to be powered by St. Anthony Falls. (Just as a side note, the falls are close to the park and can be viewed from Stone Arch Bridge.) You can get close up to the remnants at Mills Ruins Park by walking on the designated pathways. I hate to admit that I didn’t do much research on specifically what I would be looking at, but it’s definitely helpful that there are information boards scattered around the area to learn more about the city’s history. This document from the University of Minnesota is also helpful.
The actual mills that used to be where the park is today were destroyed in 1931. Now, what’s left over of the former mills are their tailraces, which are tunnels where water exited the mill. (More about that can be found on the document mentioned above.)
Mills Ruins Park is part of the city’s historic West Side Milling District, an area that used to be the world’s largest direct-drive water-powered facility and the leading global flour producer. It opened up in October 2001.
While the park itself is rich with history, one of the best aspects of it is that you can see Stone Arch Bridge both from a distance and up close! It’s really a grand view from the park.
Other non-park related perks there include an information board about the Mississippi River and other attractions within walking distance, such as Mill City Museum, which is a great place to learn more in-depth about the history of Minneapolis’ milling industry. You can also check out the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam Visitor Center after spending some time at the park.
Mills Ruins Park is a must-visit if you’re ever in Minneapolis. It’s always amazing to witness, experience and learn about historical sites. Plus, because it’s so close to a lot of other places, you’ll be able to easily visit those as well 🙂