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The Abandoned Archibald Mill - Dundas, MN

Dear Diary,
My children are soon-to-be 11 (how?!) and 7.

They are curious, active and inquisitive.

And to fuel their imaginations, I've been taking them with me on my explorations in the area.

Sometimes, the subject matter is a bit mature, sometimes violent and sometimes abandoned, like the topic of this post.

This is their history though, as Minnesota is their home base and I'm certain they'll soon learn about these places in school. My goal and intent is that they will be able to connect what they saw with their own eyes and what they experienced at these places to the lessons they'll potentially be taught. The impact will be far greater and much more meaningful.

Minnesota is home to what was once the "milling capital of the world."

Flour mills were abundant, driving both city settlements and the state's early economy.

The most famous mill is probably the Washburn A Mill, the site of a deadly explosion that killed more than a dozen men and prompted revised safety precautions. Currently, the Mill City Museum resides on that spot of occurrence.

Scattered throughout the region are the ruins of smaller mills, like the Archibald Mill in Dundas. It's now abandoned, the structure crumbling as nature reclaims it for herself, and is a short drive from our house.

The Archibald Mill is located on the Cannon River, which was essential for power, and was founded in 1857. It expanded with a second mill constructed across the river in 1870. It was the first U.S. mill to produce and market patent flour, and it's "Dundas Straight" was once considered the best flour in the country. The Archibald Mill is associated with the introduction of hard spring wheat to Minnesota, and was one of the nation's first to convert fully to a roller mill. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its national significance in commerce, industry and of course, flour milling.

At the time, the mill used the most current technology available, and the flour, called EXTRA, was a fine quality. It was sold for $1-2 more per barrel than other local flours.

On December 31, 1892, both mills caught fire and burned. The monetary loss was $30,000 and was partially covered by insurance. Twice more the mill was rebuilt and burned in fires before it was destroyed in the 1930s.

Today, only the foundation of the 1857 mill remains, while the ruins of the 1870 mill stand at the river's edge near a trailhead for the Mill Towns Trail.

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