I have been wandering around the elevators since 2005, when it was decidedly less safe than today. Because the property inside is a mash of public and private and there are few proper signs indicating the former, Mill Hell is still fair game to walk around legally. Police patrol the area often, making sure the curious and the bored do not get over zealous, but they generally do not mind when people stroll through.
I recommend it.
This is not a complete review of the elevators in this area, but to my knowledge the most complete and up to date online. There are some factories I did not include because of the focus on elevators, but I hope to add sections someday on those as well.
2017 Update: Electric Steel and Kurth are demolished, now.
A long exposure panorama of Electric Steel and Kurth from the roof of Russell Miller B, days before it was demolished.
In the middle of Electric Steel, dust collector vents cross-cross out of sight.
Looking up at the most conspicuous graffiti in the city on ADM #4.
Panorama from where the skyway connected the cleaning house and elevator. ADM Meal Storage is to the right, ADM-4 is to the extreme right, and Kurth is on the left.
Looking at ADM-Delmar #4, #1 and Kurth from the Meal Storage Elevator at sunset on one of the warmer days of December. Note the graffiti “United Crushers” that gave the big elevator its common name among locals. Also, Harris Machinery is sitting in the lower-left corner, awaiting word of its next use.
Workers would undoubtedly prefer to use the belt manlift on the right.
Kurth bears a ghost sign. Recently, its main sign was destroyed by graffiti artists in 2015.
Reflections of graffiti during spring melt.
Workers in the basement tunnels had to communicate with the workhouse operators 100 feet above and vice versa. Alarms and bells were installed to signal trouble over the sound of the elevator machinery.
A closeup of a high window in Bunge.
On the left is the 1907 elevator section and its 1926 expansion is on the right. Interesting how the century-old silos seem to be faring better. Windows provided light to the underground conveyor tunnels, which were used to bring grain out of the silos by gravity.
Postcards and snapshots in a high elevator office.
A train idles beside the Calumet offices. Pentax 67 Medium Format
The Calumet Elevator offices used to be flanked on both sides by rails. Now, only one side has engines running on it.
The bottom of the grain drier inside ADM-Delmar #1.
I love that the administration building–almost 100 years old now–still carries the original name.
In the mid-2000s, Peavey sealed the spaces between their Electric Steel Elevator bins. What they unwittingly created was a graffiti time capsule. “Impeach Bush”.
Chutes connect the bottoms of the silos to a conveyor belt.
This corner of the building was the coal room, used to feed the two big boilers inside. The steam equipment has been replaced with electric, so this section may not have changed much in the past decades.
One of the last times I saw the skyway standing. ADM’s Meal Elevator is in the distance.
An elevator is reflected in the flooded footprint of Spencer & Kellogg. These trains are in storage for the winter.
One of my favorite signs, informing workers about to descend into the open-top grain bins about basic procedures. This was in ADM-Annex 1 (connected to the cleaning house via skyway), so it will never be seen again, unless the sign lands luckily when the elevator is demolished.
ADM-Delmar #1- Maintainance Department. The stainless steel bits are part of the grain dryer added in the 1940s. The workhouse itself (the larger tower) was a dedicated Cleaning House, meaning that grain passed through both these buildings to be rid of dust, dirt and extra moisture before storage. In the foreground is the old ADM locker room and pipe department.
The top floor of the condemned Russell Miller mill “B”, which would have housed sets of powerful electric motors to power the plant’s dust collectors and grain purifiers.
The sexiest feature of Kurth is this steel arch over the silos on its south side. The manholes in the floor open to the silos directly, and flimsy grates might catch a hurried worker. Grates were removable so that workers could descend into the concrete tubes, so a few are missing today.
Looking from one workhouse at another, with the other residents of Mill Hell falling into place as the distance grows. Across the rail yard you can see Froedert Malt elevator and Calumet.
Looking out of Kurth Malt a the neighbors–the silos past Electric Steel are those of the Froedert Malt Company, now gone.
The rear of the complex shows the more than 100 year old workhouse–still working! I do not know if the tanks are original to the 1901 elevator, but I suspect so.
The city has taken steps to prevent the curious and the desperate from going into the elevators, including piling rocks against the doors and windows.
I’m very happy to have caught Marquette before it was completely destroyed. If you’re wondering, it costs about $1,000,000 to demolish and elevator like this, and not that much work for the demo crews.
Delmar #4 is like two elevators in one, in capacity and design.
The skyway in the bottom of the picture is now gone.
A week before this building was knocked down.
One of my favorite photos of the ADM-Delmar #1 skyway, when it stood. Taken at sunset, with the reflection of the overcast sky in the remaining windows.
A little sun and a little moisture sprouted this grass in the middle of the steel silos, in the midst of Minneapolis’ “graffiti graveyard”. Two images of time: nature growing through industry and rust dissolving old art in the elements.
I was invited to watch the 4th of July fireworks atop the Kurth tower before the current owners bought the property. Every one of the 12 frames has dozens of fireworks–just look closely. The main display is from the Stone Arch Bridge, of course.
Harris Machinery rests under snow on the left. Two explorers enjoy the view.
Rust undermines the decade old graffiti on the steel bin.
Mill Hell before the University of Minnesota began developing the area. Now many of the buildings are gone, there are new roads and even bike paths.
Gloves hang in the basement of the former quality assurance labs.
A tower above Minneapolis that few people see.
Sunrise in SEMI. The shadow of Kurth Malt is cast across ADM-Delmar #1. Clouds behind ADM-Delmar #4 light up. It’s cold and the air smells like train grease.
ADM overshadows the Meal Elevator. The cleared area behind is now home to Surley Brewery.
The ADM Quality Assurance Labs haven’t changed much, except for that it has become a common home for the homeless.
The green-tinted skylight makes this a bright green corridor, the lower of the two skyways connecting the two workhouses.
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.
Electric Steel’s bins reflect the sunset.
Looking at ADM-1 from beside ADM-4, back when ADM-4 had a train shed and ADM-1 had a skyway. In the thick woods beneath the skyway was a long time homeless camp… most of its residents were very friendly.
Part of the grain drier system in ADM #1 crawls up the side of the building like a steel vine.
Every elevator has sets of these conveyor switches. Grain comes down through the top chute and the bottom chute rotates to move the flow onto various belts around the plant by gravity. The cross belt is another switch and the bridge belt brings the flow to the other half of the elevator.
The top floor of the Meal Storage Elevator.
Calumet stands at the side of the Union Pacific railyard.
The spectacular, if precarious, view of downtown Minneapolis from the roof of ADM Annex 4. Note the great messages left by various graffiti artists who made it to the spot.
Sunrise over Mill Hell, and all of Kurth’s various skyways. The elevators in the foreground date to the mid-1920s, Electric Steel is behind and is a little earlier than that.
Kurth looks toward the city that forgot it.
Shadows of distant power lines are carried to the concrete by street lights.
One of many photos pasted to the walls of the ADM-4 workhouse. This shows a minor derailment near Spencer Kellogg & Sons’ linseed oil factory.
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