Minneapolis Stone Arch Bridge

Looking across the Stone Arch Bridge from the top of the Mill City Museum.

Hot and steamy is the best description for Minneapolis in the summer. There’s plenty of water. The Twin Cities sidle up to the great Mississippi River by design and the river front teems with industry past and present. Discover riverside Minneapolis and a powerful history preserved in shadowy remnants at the water’s edge.

St. Anthony Falls Locks, Mississippi River

St. Anthony Falls Locks, Mississippi River

St. Anthony Falls is the only true waterfall on the Mississippi. For centuries Indians speared fish and built villages along the shore.

“St. Anthony Falls is a sacred place that was created by Mother Earth as a teaching place.” ~ Dave Larsen, Former Tribal Chair, Lower Sioux Indian Community

Early tourists came to marvel at the power of the falls. Industrious engineers envisioned deep tubes of water powering great engines and soon a building boom was on. Between 1880 to 1920 Minneapolis became the “flour milling capitol of the world.” Central to the Midwest, grain trains emptied their bounty as General Mills, Pillsbury,and Betty Crocker became household words.

Mill City Museum sign, Minneapolis

Mill City Museum sign, Minneapolis

Flour dust can create a dangerous fog. Try as they did to filter the flammable grindings, the mills burst into flames several times before being permanently closed. A phoenix has risen as the best of the remains have been re-purposed into a waterfront park with the graceful Stone Arch Bridge and the towering Mill City Museum.

Riverfront entrance to Mill City Museum, Minneapolis

Riverfront entrance to Mill City Museum, Minneapolis

The pedestrian / bike trail on top of the Stone Arch Bridge is a people magnet. Over 2,100 feet long, it’s built of native granite and limestone. There are 23 arches spanning the river just below St. Anthony Falls. Bicyclists, Segway tours, and families with strollers, slid past all of us enjoying a welcome, cooling breeze.

Across the Mississippi from Minneapolis

Looking across the Mississippi you can just spy the old Pillsbury Factory Building.

Riverfront trail near Stone Arches Bridge

Riverfront trail near Stone Arches Bridge

Just past west side hotels and condos there’s a small parking lot. Walking down the ramp, I ended up at the water’s edge to find a warren of ruins and trails – the remains of the old mill. It’s a mysterious place, well worth taking the time to explore.

Riverfront Mill Trail, Minneapolis

Riverfront Mill Trail, Minneapolis

For being on the edge of such a large city the area is quiet except for the distant shush of the St. Anthony Waterfall. The craftsmanship in stone was mesmerizing.

Decades of masonry remain.

Decades of masonry craftsmanship remain.

Twisted metal pieces jutted into the sky. Grass and wildflowers flowed wherever they could. The trail makes a refreshing stop before dinner or a visit to the Mill Museum at the top of the trail as you discover Minneapolis.

Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis

The Stone Arch Bridge, Minneapolis

If you go:

Riverfront Historical District Map

Stone Arch Bridge – History and things to do

Mill City Museum

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