Monday, August 19, 2013

Did I like Minneapolis? Oh, gosh ya! (Part 2)

Let's head back to Minneapolis to wrap up my adventures there, shall we? When last I wrote about Minneapolis, I told you about my trek to the Mall of America and lawn bowling at Brit's Pub, before leaving you hanging with my arrival at Mill City Museum. Let's pick up there!

Remember this pic from Part 1? I've arrived at the museum!

As a refresher, I purchased a ticket for the Gold Medal Flour Walking Tour for Sunday afternoon. 
Join a guide from Mill City Museum for a visit to railroad landmarks such as the Stone Arch Bridge, Milwaukee Road Depot and the Minneapolis Eastern Railway Engine House & Trestle. Discover the impact of railroads on Minneapolis, find clues to the vanishing railroad landscape and learn about the new era of light rail and commuter rail. (
The tour group assembled just outside of the museum store and was led by Dave, a member of the museum staff and - according to one of the ladies in the museum store - a living, breathing, walking, talking history book! Steps away from the museum store, Dave began the tour at the box car on display inside the museum, explaining the beginning of the railroad in Minnesota.

The St. Paul and Pacific Railroad operated from 1857 to 1879 as a shortline railroad and served as the basis for the Great Northern Railroad.

Box cars were pulled into the mill by cable to be loaded and unloaded.

Looking across the Mississippi River to the Pillsbury mill.

Dave used a book of large prints to show us what this street used to look like.

A shot of the Gold Medal Flour signs while on the Gold Medal Flour Tour!

Mill ruins? We'll see some of those shortly.

The backside of Mill City Museum.

Another shot of the museum. Nearby buildings have been converted into condominiums.

Dave uses another old photo to show what the area used to look like.

A barge heads down the Mississippi River.

Here are the mill ruins.

And here are some railroad ruins (trestle bases and trestle legs).

Dave explains the history of the Stone Arch Bridge (built in 1883 by railroader James J. Hill).

The North Star Blankets sign above the former North Star Woolen Mill.
The building is now home to lofts and condos.

Another old mill that's been converted into residences.

Another former rail yard in the Mill District.

Another view of the North Star Blankets building.

A close-up of the building.

Take a peek at the close-up photo of the North Star Blankets building. See the horizontal "layers" of concrete on the exterior? The original building was made of wood. The owner, having seen other wooden buildings go up in flames very quickly, decided to redo with building with concrete and brick. But he didn't want to disrupt his mill operations, so he built a new exterior around the wooden structure. Once the building was fully encased, he ripped out the wood! And never ceased operations!

There was so much great information on the walking tour; I couldn't possibly remember it all and try to share it with you here. Dave truly was a wealth of knowledge and he seemed like he had so much more that he wanted to tell us. Time simply ran out! There are tons of books about the railroad in Minneapolis and a few biographies about James J. Hill. If your curiosity is piqued at all, there are plenty of resources online and at your local library!

After the walking tour, I checked out the museum.

The museum includes a Baking Lab where staff members whip up baked goods.

While I was in the Baking Lab, Rieska Finnish Flatbread samples were available.

It was pretty tasty, so I snapped a picture of the recipe to try here at home sometime.

This display showed the differences between grains and their corresponding flours.

I didn't realize "The Pillsbury Doughboy" had a name! It's Poppin' Fresh. He's just always been "The Pillsbury Doughboy" to me. 

A little bit about Betty Crocker.

Lots of Betty Crocker paraphernalia on display. 

A giant Bisquick box on display.

This one plate explains why the table in the next picture has SO MUCH food on it!

This table for 14 had a ton of food on it. Farmhands need a hearty meal!

This was a new sign for me..."Tornado Shelter."
I guess I didn't think of Minneapolis as "tornado country." 

William Hood Dunwoody made Minneapolis flour an international product.

With local market saturation, Minneapolis flour producers set their sights on "the world."

$500K worth of flour was shipped to Belgium during WWI as a humanitarian effort.

The humanitarian flour was shipped in bags like this.

As the international flour market waned, the producers refocused their international efforts on packaged goods like cereals and refrigerated biscuits.

Some international examples of Betty Crocker products.

After all but abandoning flour-milling operations, Pillsbury resumed them to capture the market in India.
India consumes 69 million tons of wheat per year (compared to 26 million tons in the US).

An explanation of a middlings purifier...

...and an actual middlings purifier.

An explanation of a dust collector...

...and an actual dust collector.

A miniature replica of a flour mill.

Included in my museum admission was a timed tour of the "Flour Tower" - a freight elevator that travels up eight stories through the mill and shows what each level of an operating flour mill would have looked and sounded like. The Flour Tower tour ends on the 8th floor of the mill where some equipment that survived the 1991 fire is on display. Visitors can walk up one more floor to the 9th floor where there are both indoor and outdoor viewing areas. 

The entrance to the Flour Tower.

The freight elevator "ride" - kinda reminded me of the Tower of Terror.

Looking down on the museum grounds and ruins from the 9th floor.

Looking out on the Stone Arch Bridge and the Mississippi River.

Looking up can see the St. Anthony Falls on the right.

A selfie with the Stone Arch Bridge in the background.

Another shot of the Gold Medal Flour sign...this time nine stories closer!

A slightly different view of the Stone Arch Bridge and the river.

A pretty meaningful sign inside the museum.

The St. Anthony Falls crept eight miles upriver before the Army Corps of Engineers intervened.

I must say, my tour was pretty dam good!

Once my museum visit was over, it was time to head back to the hotel to I could get ready to go out to dinner with my Minneapolis-based friends Dex and Danielle, and their daughter Quinnlyn. I decided to use one of the bicycles from the "Nice Ride" program to get back to my hotel. The Nice Ride program puts over 1,500 bikes into service throughout the Twin Cities from April to November available at 170 kiosks. The bikes are available through a subscription - either one day ($6 for 24 hours) or one year ($65). Bikes are checked out from the kiosks and additional charges are incurred when trips last longer than 30 minutes. If you have to use a bike more than 30 minutes, to avoid additional charges, you just dock the bike and check out a new one every 30 minutes! Anyway, I hadn't ridden a bicycle in over a week at this point, so I decided to plunk down the $6 and saddle up!

My ride fresh out of the dock with my purse strapped to the front.

I got some friendly passers-by to take my picture on my "nice ride."

I had a great ride back to the hotel. I was on downtown city streets and felt perfectly safe because Minneapolis drivers actually know how to share the road with bicyclists. I didn't have a helmet which admittedly felt odd and yet I still felt safe! Seriously, between dedicated bike lanes, shared lanes, and considerate, respectful drivers...well, I have never felt safer on the road on a bike. It was strange!

My trip to Minneapolis was fantastic all around. The conference was great, the company (ERAPPA friends, APPA friends, and local friends) was wonderful, and my free-time adventures were educational and liberating. I've been to a lot of cities where I can say, "I've been there." As for Minneapolis? "I've been there...and I'd like to go back!"

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