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St. Anthony

Now and Then

Then and Now: view from the Stone Arch Bridge.
View from the Stone Arch Bridge.

Ard Godfrey
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Early Minnesota Settler
Ard Godfrey came to Minnesota from Maine in 1848 when he was hired to oversee the building of the first sawmill at the Falls of St. Anthony. The house he built in 1849 is the oldest frame house still standing in the Twin Cities.
Eva McDonald Valesh
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Breaking the Mold of Women's Roles
Hired by the St. Paul Globe to investigate the lives of working women, Eva McDonald Valesh posed as a job seeker, using the name Eva Gay, in various trades in 1888. The resulting series of articles launched her career as a reporter, labor organizer and public speaker.
Gratia Countryman
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Bringing the Books to the People
Gratia Countryman was the chief librarian for the Minneapolis Public Library from 1904 until 1936. She greatly enhanced access to the library's books by establishing branch libraries and reading rooms and creating a mobile library system.
John Pillsbury
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Using His Power for Good
John S. Pillsbury, who moved to St. Anthony from New Hampshire in 1855, was a successful businessman and a member of the family that founded C. A. Pillsbury and Company. As a Republican politician, he served as state senator and governor (1876-1882). A very wealthy and generous man, he supported the University of Minnesota and other civic and cultural institutions.

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Between 1870 and 1930, St. Anthony Falls was the flour milling capital of the world, the home of both General Mills and Pillsbury. Flour milling was the economic engine that drove the development of Minneapolis and linked the city to the wheat farms of the Upper Great Plains.

The Falls
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The Falls that Built a City
The Falls of St. Anthony, the only true falls on the Mississippi River, is where Minneapolis began. Drawing on the enormous power of cascading water, sawmills and flourmills created the greatest industrial center of the Upper Midwest. From 1870 to 1930 these mills produced more flour than any other place in the world.

"A" Mill Explosion
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Finding A Way To Avoid Tragedy
In May of 1878, the Washburn A Flour Mill in St. Anthony exploded. Eighteen people inside the mill and in nearby buildings were killed in the blast and much of the surrounding area was leveled.
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Putting the Falls to Work
The use of waterpower in St. Anthony made it one of the largest milling districts in the United States. The beginnings of the mill industry in the area centered around the falls as a source of power.
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The Eliza Winston Case
Conflict in Minnesota over slavery came to a boil in August 1860 when abolitionists helped the slave Eliza Winston escape from her owner, a Southerner on vacation at the Winslow House in St. Anthony.


Historic Tour
QuickTime VR Tour