Mill Ruins Park is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis and is adjacent to St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge. As the centerpiece of the revitalization of Minneapolis' historic West Side Milling District, Mill Ruins Park combines an exploration of the history of Minneapolis with present day activities for all ages.
In its 19th-century heyday, this area of mills, canals, tailraces and other historic resources comprised the largest direct-drive water-powered facility in the world and was the leading international producer of flour, a commodity which was shipped both nationwide and worldwide.
This industrial powerhouse was the catalyst for the development of Minneapolis and the birthplace of a number of companies which remain significant to this day, including General Mills, Pillsbury, Washburn Crosby (WCCO), and Xcel Energy.
Mill Ruins Park lies within the St. Anthony Falls Historic District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Mill Ruins Park is directly adjacent to the 1883 Stone Arch Bridge, a National Historic Engineering Landmark constructed to connect Midwestern farmers and their crops of wheat to the booming flour production mills.
The park tells this story through the now exposed historic walls and waterpower features long buried beneath many feet of sand and gravel. With the reopening of the historic tailrace canal, which carried water from the mill turbines back to the river, visitors have the opportunity to interact directly with an exciting water feature.
Mill Ruins Park features the historic mill ruins, biking and walking paths, landscaping, raised catwalks, interpretive signs to provide information and guide visitors as they explore the river, and spectacular views of the falls and the Stone Arch Bridge. Guided programs and tours are also available.
For information on tours or programs call 612-313-7793 or e-mail email@example.com.
Explore Mill City Ruins Park
Go on a Quest
A quest is a means to explore local community treasures and learn more about our natural and cultural heritage. Movement clues will lead you on a specific route and the other clues will reveal stories about what you are discovering. Quests can be created by anyone and everyone.
Print the Quest below and head to Mill Ruins Park. Follow all of the clues for a 60-minute ramble along the west bank of the Mississippi River. The clues will reveal the Quest walking route and the stories of the Mississippi River – including the St. Anthony Falls, the lock & dam, flour milling, native flora and fauna, and more.
Here’s an example:
The falls were downstream in St. Paul back in the day,
But sandstone and limestone eroded away.
Over 12,000 years Owahmenah migrated upstream
A powerful place the Dakota did deem.
For mammals and birds this was a home
Their needs supplied by this river of foam.
Later, Father Hennepin ventured here
He called the falls “St. Anthony,” 1680 was the year.
Fabled Falls & Forgotten Walls Quest
St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail
A self-guided 1.8 mile trail meanders along both banks of the Mississippi River. Start at Mill Ruins Park and stroll across the Stone Arch Bridge. View the majestic St. Anthony Falls and stroll along Main Street. Cross the Hennepin Ave. Bridge and explore First Bridge Park, then walk downstream to return to Mill Ruins Park. Kiosks, way markers and interpretive signs mark the trail and provide images and information about this historic area. For more information call 612-313-7793 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mississippi National River and Recreation Area
Mill Ruins Park falls within the boundaries of the National Park Service’s Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA). Families and youth are invited to complete an activity booklet focused on the Mississippi River and the adjacent mill ruins. Upon completion, the book may be shown to park staff and participants may take the pledge to become a Jr Ranger. Badges are awarded to youth that complete the activity booklets. Booklets are available at the park and at Mill City Museum (704 S. 2nd St.). For more information visit www.nps.gov/miss.
Directions to Mill Ruins Park
Historical Profile: More information about this and other parks is included in Parks, Lakes, Trails and So Much More, a richly detailed account of the histories of Minneapolis’ renown recreational system.
Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam
Located immediately adjacent to Mill Ruins Park, the lock & dam is the uppermost of 29 locks connecting Minneapolis with the Gulf of Mexico. The lock and dam is owned and operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. Due to construction in 2007, the Visitor’s Center is only open for scheduled group tours. The accessible public restrooms and drinking fountain will remain open.
Mill City Museum
Located just across the plank-road from Mill Ruins Park, Mill City Museum is built within the ruins of a National Historic Landmark, the Washburn A Mill. The museum provides a multi-sensory, interactive journey that chronicles the Minneapolis flour milling industry that dominated world flour production for roughly a half-century. The story of flour milling and its impact on Minneapolis, the nation and the world comes to life through the 8-story Flour Tower and other hands-on exhibits. Click to learn more about the Mill City Museum.
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