Washburn A Mill

At its peak, the Washburn A Mill was the largest and most technically advanced mill in the world, part of an industrialization of agriculture that was transforming the United States. First built in 1874, the mill was destroyed by a flour dust explosion four years later, then rebuilt in 1880. The mill was powered by St. Anthony Falls, only natural waterfall on the Mississippi River, and could produce enough flour for 12 million loaves of bread a day. Grain was brought in by rail, milled, and then loaded back into railcars for U.S. and international distribution.

Washburn A and the nearby Pillsbury A Mill (built in 1881) were critical elements in an 19th century economic boom for Minneapolis, earning it the nickname of "Flour Milling Capital of the World." The mill was shut down in 1965 and was nearly destroyed in a fire in 1991, but the remains have beeen converted into a museum run by the Minnesota Historical Society.

IATH is producing a virtual model of the mill in collaboration with the Minnesota Historical Society. To see a a high-resolutation view of the mill, the neighboring Humboldt Mill (a separate company), and the Washburn warehouse, click here. A more detailed view of the mill's slate roof, cupola, and top story windows can be seen here. A fly-through view of the river and area immediately around the mill can be seen here to see a clip of the river and area around the mill.


Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2009 by the University of Virginia.