History of St. Anthony Falls

The Birthplace of Minneapolis

The Birthplace of Minneapolis

More historical photos of St. Anthony Falls can be found by searching the Minnesota Historical Society Visual Resource Database

The story of Minneapolis begins at the Falls of St. Anthony, the only true waterfall on the 2,350 mile length of the Mississippi River.

Already a place of deep spiritual significance for Dakota Indians, the falls lured entrepreneurs from the northeastern United States in pre-Civil War days who saw in them a "Niagara of the West."

It was at the falls, where waterpower, river transportation and railroads came together, that the industrial heart of the upper midwest began to beat in the mid-1800s. Industrialists harnessed the energy produced by a 50-foot drop in the Mississippi with a mechanical system of millraces, waterwheels, gears and rotation shafts.

As saw mills and flour mills opened, people flocked to the area to settle, to work, and to build the city of Minneapolis, which became the flour-milling capital of the United States by 1880.