Daisy Roller Mill was built in 1892 as one of the founding mills of Superior, Wisconsin‘s East End Milling District. Designed by Edward P. Allis and Company, it opened as the Lake Superior Mill and could clean, mill, and pack 6,000 barrels of flour a day. Daisy’s main products were durum and semolina flour, marketed under the Perfecta and Wonder brandnames. By 1895, flour output from the Twin Ports was second only to Minneapolis (see Washburn-Crosby and Pillsbury) in the world.
Part of an ad from around 1900.
Daisy Mill, shorty after it was rebuilt in 1895. Author’s Collection. Thanks to the University of Wisconsin Superior Archives for your generous access.
Fire was a constant threat to all industry in the 19th century, but especially to flour mills, as the dust created by milling is explosively flammable. In 1895, flames quickly swept through the original Daisy Mill, burning it down to the wooden pier it was built on. The mill was soon rebuilt, but not until the pier was filled with dirt to help prevent fires from spreading in the future. This was crucial to mill’s survival in 1914 when a conflagration overcame Daisy’s neighbors, the Anchor and Listman mills. Only the 100 foot stretch of water, the Nettleton Avenue Slip, separated Daisy from another disaster.
Peavey, which also operated Globe Elevator on the other side of the city, bought Daisy Mill in 1938 and began to modernize it for more efficient durum flour production. The flour was sold under the King Midas brandname, and soon a big red sign appeared atop the circa-1941 concrete silos that said as much. The sign still exists-its letters are stacked one on the other in the old train shed. While the mill employed about 250 men year-round in the 1920s and 1930s, after equipment upgrades the mill was relatively autonomous. Peavey also bought the nearby former Cargill ‘O’ elevator for extra storage, renaming it ‘M’. The Nettleton Avenue Slip was filled-in by the early 1980s, making it easy to shift grain between the silos of ‘M’ and Daisy.
Daisy was the last of the flour mills to close in the Twin Ports; it closed in the 1970s when Peavey moved its durum operations to a new mill in Hastings, Minnesota. Today the mill is unused, though a company uses the silos.
Vignette: Brick Graffiti on Daisy Mill
The side of the mill is covered with carved messages by past workings from 1914 to 1974.
“Daisy”… probably for the mill, as it was unusual for women to work at Daisy.
An arrangement of brick graffiti on the old boiler house building near the railroad tracks.
Lapinski, Patrick. Flour Power. Spring 2006. North Star Port.
Lusignan, Paul R.. Superior Intensive Survey Report. City of Suprior. 1983.