The glow from the city is bright enough to read by.
The mostly-empty distilling room is easy to spot from the outside because of the distinctive round window.
A staircase leads behind three of the dock chutes, seemingly to nowhere. The lower on the left held one end of a string of lights above the dock.
Just outside of the blast furnace is a series of platforms and catwalks to bring workers to the stoves.
A winding flue between the ovens for Furnace 6, capped with sketchy catwalks.
Fall in line, act skinny, watch out for low hanging pipes. Don’t ask me where in the maze this was… 90% of the plant looked like this; vast rooms and catwalks with crisscrossing pipes and valves.
Not much to the catwalks.
One chute drops grain on a conveyor for storage in the north silo cluster, while another is ready to deposit the flow where the conveyor cannot reach. Instead of engineering the belt to trip in reverse, the silos under the workhouses have their own chutes.
Looking up from the industrial courtyard.
When the dock across the slip loads, the lighting below the otherwise dark ‘5’ can get a little wild.
I’ll remember the neon glow fondly.
Some local kids were having a fire extinguisher fight when I walked into the lab one day.
Worm in the path of raw ore where it would be dumped from rock cars into the silo below.
The skyway’s steel substructure collapsed slightly, crushing part of the dust collectors.
A brewmaster’s desk leans beside a long-disused stainless steel kettle. The staircase above goes to another level of kettles, which are visibly older.
A huge steam pipe snakes between catwalks, through the floors, and toward the condensers, so the water could be recovered and reused.
The elevator tower seems to have been built with expansion of the dock in mind.
Between the catwalks of Furnace 6, the molted ore would flow through the chute.
Looking across the catwalk attache to the elevated control room, in charge of the train dumping part of the operation.
Looking across the catwalk behind the ore chutes, when they were up, and at the top of the ore chutes during loading.
Steam pipes squirm around the stacks.
Much of the plant depended on steam, not only for heat but for mechanical power.
The mill was powered, in part, by water flowing through turbines under it. After the flow worked the industrial heart of the flour mill, it was exit to the Mississippi here.
The building behind Daisy was demolished, leaving these tanks and a pointless conveyorway. Now it’s bricked (see over door near right corner of mill) and the tanks are exposed to the elements. There are a few holes in the area that have a healthy drop, so you should avoid the area.
“But everyone I used to know was either dead or in prison
So I came back to Minneapolis this time I think I’m gonna stay” -Tom Waits
One of the cupola air intakes, rattled loose by the demolition downstairs, hangs stranded on the second floor. You can see that the floor I’m standing on in this picture used to extend all the way to the right wall. The blue paint on the wall made the climb absolutely worth it.
This is a great example of a combination rock house; the silos below used to fill trains with ore dropped from mine cars pulled to the top of the structure.
Transfer Elevator, Built 1916
Looking down the walkway that traces the bottom side of the ore dock.
In this photo you see three lives of Lyric: 1.) The Art Deco murals showing the Vaudeville background; 2.) The suspended ceiling put in when the building was converted for film; 3.) The explorers, photographers and others who worked in and on the building before its final demolition.
When boiling beet juice accidentally spills from the gas-fired tanks two feet away, you better be wearing some of these, or bye-bye legs.
The mill itself is one giant room sectioned into levels–more catwalks than concrete. Here you can see the evaporators and have a sense for the miles and miles of pipes that zigzag through the plant.
The two exhaust vents coming out from the boilers en route to the stacks. Plywood marks where where catwalks were removed to extract equipment.
Offices above the labs. Note all the air handling equipment. I love the utilitarian design.
The sluice room was surrounded in fine grating. The company would want to finely control when the doors would be opened so the gold could be removed under supervision. No yellow bonus for the working man…
A side view of the oven pusher from the ground. The tallest coal bunker looks tiny in the distance, though on the scale of the factory it’s practically on top of me as I’m taking the picture.
Looking at the engine house (left) from atop the stoves.
A broken window looking through the First Aid Room and into the Control Room in charge of directing grain into ships. You can see one of the large conveyors on the right, clad in green. Chutes and staircases intertwine seemingly randomly through the big empty spaces.
Most of the control panels were faceless. No doubt, they were parted out to keep other sugar mills alive.
The approach to Dock 4 is long demolished, so it is only accessible when the lake freezes.
Germany’s steel mill city.
The ‘working’ part of the furnaces are about a story above ground level, so the catwalks snake above the tree line.
The machine stood the Atlas missile up vertically over the blast pit, launching position, once the roof opened.
The sliding nuclear-blast-hardened door that would shield the missile during an attack.
The walkway to the end of the dock is elevated, so one walks above the trees and bushes growing in the rotting taconite pellets that have collected over the years.
When I wasn’t paying enough attention on the rotten balcony, I accidentally put my foot through a rotten floorboard. I snapped a picture to remember the moment.
Standing on a caustic tank with my head out a roof hatch, I look at the sign of the last brand to be produced here.
The tops of the coke stoves.
I wonder how sheltered workers on this mid-level catwalk that follows the ore chutes is in storms. Note the chunks of concrete stuck in the catwalk grates–the pockets (right) are falling apart.
Looking out upon Mill City through the lens of FLOUR, highlighted in pink and low clouds. This sign has recently been converted into LED lighting.
The bridge here moved workers between the dock, the approach tracks, and refueling buildings.
Looking up from the ground floor at the various levels of the sugar mill.
I believe these hooks were meant for hanging filters to dry.
This mean-looking thing had a purpose, probably, but that function has been lost to decades of expansion.
One of the only remaining pieces of equipment in the distilling room is this green control panel on a bridge suspended in the middle of it all.
The most pointless, beautiful and nuclear-bomb-proof catwalk I’ve been on to date. It goes between two high levels in its own bottom-lit concrete capsule in the center of the tallest, thickest building. Hang on, we’re riding this one out.
Fermenters and mixing tanks fill this brewing room. The lighting is all natural, and is partially owed to a crumbling wall letting the sunset blast the interior in almost perfect profile.
In the upper left of the image you can see where the gas tanks used to be, along with the concentration equipment. Along the bottom you can also see some of the many railroad tracks coming and going from the plant–the ones visible here were incoming tracks that carried in hard coal from the eastern US.
The pilot house, lit with the lights of Superior.
Go on and jump in, if you want, there’s even a ladder to climb out.
The many levels of catwalks make for a place where you can look from the ground floor to the roof, about 4 stories up.
The end of the dock disappears in the fog.
If you’re an Astra-Zenica representative and want to use this for some magazine ad, I’ll charge you a reasonable $10,000. Email me (ha)!
Dust explosions were a real risk for grain mills. These funnels helped to filter the air in the mill.
The dredge is divided into four levels. The top level has controls for the tailings boom and, when it was there, the bucket excavator.
In a strange loft next to the brewhouse are these twin kettles, which seem much older than the main kettles in the brewhouse.
Furnace #7, as seen from #6’s catwalks. Cue morning fog.
The conveyor between the shore and Dock 2. Note the gap in the aerial walkway that used to connect Dock 4 to the rest of the complex.
Looking down a manlift on the ore dock side of the elevator. It’s a belt-less belt-o-vator!
Easier-to-demolish parts of the power plant were torched apart. Catwalks to nowhere meant lots of dead ends.
Looking across a skyway at the dust-collecting funnels, one of the few pieces of equipment that haven’t been completely decimated by time and the elements.
The powered lime hopper had a lot of levels.
My favorite shot from the trip. Later in its life, the plant was converted to burn its own byproducts, but it seems this was designed as a coal hopper.
“The fresh snow mixed indistinguishably from the ashes of the half-demolished power plant.”
I am not sure what this machine does, but I have a hunch that it husks and cleans the sugar beets as they come into the plant. It is certainly the biggest single piece of equipment in any of the mills.
I like to think of this as the hardware abstraction layer. It’s one of many subassembly monorail conveyors that dipped onto the factory floor to deliver assembled subsections where they needed to be on the main assembly floor below.
A filter to separate the sliced beets from boiling water.
A screened water wheel, presumably for rotating the dredge once it lowered its “foot” to pivot in place.
The factory was utterly vertical.
There’s concrete under that dirt… under that water… somewhere.