Ford’s Twin Cities Plant & Sand Mines
Saint Paul, MN

Intro

Christmas 2011

The cover of an old tour brochure.
The cover of an old tour brochure.

Weeks before Christmas, the parking lot at the Ford plant drained onto the snowy streets, leaving a husk of steel, glass, and questions. Memories of the proud work done there sank out of sight from almost everyone. They sank as the factory fell as silent as the mine below, but the explorers remembered.

A long tunnel stretches toward the Mississippi. Was this the route Model Ts took on their way to waiting barges?
A long tunnel stretches toward the Mississippi.

It was an absurd idea—perhaps that’s why selective memory ran its course. Cars and trucks made here in Minnesota? That sort of work was for Detroit (or, more likely, overseas). But this was not Detroit; it was Saint Paul, my hometown.

For years, management threatened to close the doors—but some last-minute political deals would always stay the axe. Until one time, that didn’t happen. So, on December 16th, 2011, workers rolled a white Ford Ranger truck out of the plant, knowing that there would be no more.

Not long afterward the doors were chained and locked, it was my turn.