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ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE
CENTRAL MINNEAPOLIS RIVERFRONT

PART 1: HISTORICAL OVERVIEW AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL POTENTIALS


Historical Figures and Photographs

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Figure 1. Map of the Central Minneapolis Riverfront showing the route of the new West River Parkway (dark line, dashed where not constructed) and the location of the Hennepin Avenue bridge (circled).



                   


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Figure 2a: Geology of the Minneapolis Region: East-West cross section showing the bedrock, buried valleys, glacial deposits, and Mississippi River trench (from Wright 1972).



                   


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Figure 2b: Geology of the Minneapolis Region: Buried valleys with heavy line showing location of top cross section (from Schwartz and Thiel 1963).



                   


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Figure 3: The historically documented recession of St. Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis (from Winchell and Upham 1888).



                   


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Figure 4: Original government land survey map of Minneapolis dated February 1854 from survey data from July and August 1853. Prairie is shown as stippling and white areas are wooded. Dotted lines are roads or trails. Cross hatched areas are cultivated fields. Bassett's Creek is in the upper left quarter. St. Anthony Falls is in Section 23.



                   


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Figure 5: Ojibwe portaging around the east side of St. Anthony Falls where the University of Minnesota is located today (from Catlin 1965)..



                   


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Figure 6: The dam complex and waterpowered industries of the St. Anthony Falls area in the early 1880s (from Greenleaf 1887).



                   


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Figure 7: Map of the Central Minneapolis Riverfront showing area locations for the Archaeological Site Inventory. BC = Bassett's Creek, GW = Gateway, WM = West Side Mill District, MR = Milwaukee Road, GB = Gasworks Bluff, BF = Brewery Flats, BI = Boom Island, HC = Hennepin-Central Area, NI = Nicollet Island, EM = East Side Mill District, and IB = Interbank.



                   


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Figure 8: Site locations in the Bassett's Creek Area.



                   


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Figure 9: Sanborn Insurance Map (1885) of the Washington House Residential Complex.



                   


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Figure 10a: Rascher Insurance Map (1892) of the C,M,SP & O RR Roundhouse.



                   


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Figure 10b: Sanborn Insurance Map (1885) of the small industries south of Bassett's Creek.



                   


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Figure 11: Sanborn Insurance Map (1885) of the North Star Sawmill, North Star Planing Mill and Minnesota Brush Electric (West Side Power) Plant.



                   


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Figure 12: Sanborn Insurance Map (1885) of the North Star Ironworks and the Pacific Sawmill.



                   


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Figure 13a: Views of the North Star Ironworks from Andreas (1874).



                   


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Figure 13b: View of the Pacific Sawmill from Andreas (1874).



                   


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Figure 14: Site locations in the Gateway Area.



                   


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Figure 15a: Nineteenth century view of the Gateway Area: Andreas (1874).



                   


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Figure 15b: Nineteenth century view of the Gateway Area: Herancourt (1885).



                   


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Figure 16: Detail of the Gateway Area from the 1857 Talcott Map showing vicinity buildings. The Steven's House is the dark rectangle at the bottom center between the river and Block 14.



                   


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Figure 17: Detail of the Gateway Area from the ca. 1880 Map of the Business Center of Minneapolis. The Gateway Residential Complex is at the lower right.



                   


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Figure 18: Site locations in the West Side Mill District.



                   


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Figure 19a: Mid-1880s views of the West Side Mill District: Herancourt (1885) looking southwest.



                   


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Figure 19b: Mid-1880s views of the West Side Mill District: Northwestern Miller Holiday Issue (1884-1885)looking northwest.



                   


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Figure 20: Sanborn Insurance Map (1885) of the north end of the West Side Mill District.



                   


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Figure 21: Diagram of the West Side Mill District 1st Street Canal (stippled) and tailraces (dotted lines) from a 1926 Byllesby Engineering (NSP) map.



                   


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Figure 22a: View of the early mills of the West Side Mill District: Cataract, Holly, Union, and Arctic mills from Stone (1878).



                   


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Figure 22b: View of the early mills of the West Side Mill District: 1859 view of Old Government mills (far left), Cataract Mill, and Pioneer platform sawmill from Hudson (1907).



                   


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Figure 23: Sanborn Insurance Map (1885) of the south end of the West Side Mill District.



                   


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Figure 24a: Front view (west) of the Pillsbury B mill following its 1880s reconstruction. The front view shows the Minneapolis and St. Louis RR trestle above the canal.



                   


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Figure 24b: Side cross section of the Pillsbury B mill following its 1880s reconstruction. The cross section shows the internal arrangement of a typical roller mill with the drive wheels attached to the turbine in the basement, roller mills on the first floor, flour packers on the second floor, and purifiers and bolting reels on the upper floors.



                   


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Figure 25a: Idealized view of the Pillsbury milling complexes from Morrison (1885). The view is looking upriver with the Pillsbury B Mill and its elevator on the left and the Pillsbury A Mill on the right.



                   


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Figure 25b: Idealized view of the Washburn-Crosby milling complexes from Morrison (1885). The view is looking southwest with the Washburn A on the left, the B Mill in the center, and the C Mill complex on the right.



                   


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Figure 26: South end of the West Side Mill District just after the 1878 Washburn A Mill explosion from Stone (1878). The Washburn A Mill stood at the left center. The damaged Pettit, Zenith, and Galaxy Mills are at the right center.



                   


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Figure 27: Site locations in the Gasworks Bluffs area.



                   


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Figure 28: Sanborn Insurance Map (1912) of the Minneapolis Gas Works.



                   


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Figure 29: Site locations in the Brewery Flats area.



                   


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Figure 30: Sanborn Insurance Maps (1885) of the Noerenberg/City (left) and Heinrich/Minneapolis (right) breweries.



                   


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Figure 30: Sanborn Insurance Maps (1885) of the Noerenberg/City (left) and Heinrich/Minneapolis (right) breweries.



                   


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Figure 31: View of the Noerenberg/City brewery: Andreas (1874).



                   


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Figure 31b: View of the Noerenberg/City brewery: Minneapolis Industrial Exposition Handbook (1886).



                   


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Figure 32: Foote Atlas (1892) view of the Noerenberg Brewery and Bohemian Flats area with the original location of the Northern Pacific RR bridge.(1886).



                   


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Figure 33: Foote Atlas (1892) view of southern Bohemian Flats, Heinrich Brewery, and Municipal Levee.



                   


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Figure 34b: View of the Heinrich/Minneapolis Brewery: Minneapolis Industrial Exposition Handbook (1886).



                   


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Figure 35: Site locations in the Milwaukee Road area.



                   


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Figure 36: Detail from the Minneapolis Eastern RR Map (1880) showing the Minnesota Central Railway Shops and Roundhouse.



                   


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Figure 37: Site locations in the Boom Island area.



                   


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Figure 38a: View of the Nelson-Tenney A Sawmill looking southeast from Morrison (1885).



                   


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Figure 38b: View of the Stetson and Clough/Nelson-Tenney B sawmill looking north from Bliss (1888).



                   


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Figure 39: Site locations in the Hennepin - Central area.



                   


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Figure 40: Cook (1972) map of the Hennepin-Central, Boom Island, and Nicollet Island areas. The large shaded rectangle on Prince Street is the Winslow House Hotel.



                   


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Figure 41: View of the Exposition Building looking east from Bliss (1888).



                   


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Figure 42: Site locations on Nicollet Island.



                   


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Figure 43: Hopkins (1885) map of Nicollet Island showing the northern residential area, the commercial district along Bridge Street, and the southern industrial complex.



                   


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Figure 44: Site locations in the East Side Mill District.



                   


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Figure 45: Hopkins (1885) map of the East Side Mill District.



                   


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Figure 46: Site locations in the Interbank area.



                   


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Figure 47: Andreas (1874) map of Minneapolis showing the Upper, St. Paul and Pacific, Hennepin Avenue, and Lower bridges.



                   


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Figure 48: Andreas (1874) panorama detail looking west at Nicollet Island and the Gateway Area. Bridges in the vicinity of Nicollet Island include the wooden towered suspension bridge, the St. Paul and Pacific main channel bridge, and the east channel Hennepin Avenue bridges. At the far right are partial views of the east channel railroad bridge and the Upper (Plymouth Avenue) bridge.



                   


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Figure 49: Map from Farquhar (1883) showing the locations of the Eastman Tunnel (straight dotted lines in center and upper right), tunnel breaks (curved dotted lines in left center), and coffer dams (left center). The concrete dike built beneath the river is the vertical jagged line in the center.




Historic Photographs of the Central Minneapolis Riverfront

from the Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society

                   


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Plate 1. Looking west at Nicollet Island and the Gateway Area in 1857. The John Steven House is in the left center just south of the Suspension Bridge. The photograph was taken from the top of the Winslow House.



                   


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Plate 2. Looking south at Hennepin Island and the West Side Mill District in 1857. The original East Side Platform Mills are in the lower right. The Government Mills are at the right center just over the top of the Mill Hands Boarding House. The Rogers, Stimpson, and Kent sawmill is under construction at the left center.



                   


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Plate 3. Looking southeast at the East Side Mill District and Gasworks Bluff in 1857. The Upton Block is the brick building in the right center with the Ard Godfrey House behind it. The 20th Avenue S. bridge is at the river bend. The William Garland House is the white building in the upper right.



                   


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Plate 4. Looking southeast at the Government Mills in about 1858. The Grist Mill is the small stone building and the Sawmill is the wooden building. The sluiceway is in the foreground. Spirit Island is at the far left with the 20th Avenue Bridge just visible at the bend of the river.



                   


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Plate 6. Looking northeast at St. Anthony in 1861. The Pioneer Sawmill on the West Side Platform is at the far left and the Government Grist Mill in the lower right. The Mill Hands Boarding House is on Hennepin Island in the left center. On the east side, the Winslow House dominates the skyline.



                   


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Plate 7. Looking northwest at the Gateway Area in the late 1860s. The John Stevens House is white building in the left center with the Pacific Sawmill above it to the right. Note the residential district to the south of the Stevens House. North of the Suspension Bridge is the St. Paul and Pacific RR Bridge.



                   


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Plate 8. Looking north at the east channel waterfall in the late 1860s. The River Mill is at the far left with the Winslow House on the skyline above it. Along Main Street the principal buildings moving left to right are the Martin-Morrison Block, the Upton Block, and the Tremont House Hotel.



                   


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Plate 9. Looking southeast at the Eastman Tunnel collapse in 1869. The East Side Platform Sawmills and Hennepin Island are in the background.



                   


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Plate 10. Looking north at the Hennepin Avenue Suspension Bridges in 1876.



                   


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Plate 11. Looking west at the southern Nicollet Island and the Gateway Area in 1878. The large frame building at the far left center is a livery stable at the south end of the Gateway Residential Complex.



                   


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Plate 12. Looking northwest at the east channel and central Nicollet Island in about 1880. The East Channel Stone Arch Bridge is on the right and the Central Nicollet Island Commercial District on the left.



                   


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Plate 13. Looking north at the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul RR Depot in about 1880. Washington Avenue is in the foreground.



                   


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Plate 14. Looking southeast from the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul RR Depot in about 1882. The Washburn-Crosby milling complex is in the upper left. The old Minneapolis Central RR Shops are just to the right of the Washburn-Crosby buildings.



                   


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Plate 15. Looking northeast at the south end of the mill district in 1883. The Stone Arch Bridge is under construction at the far left. The bridge in the center is the 10th Avenue S. (Lower) Bridge. Spirit Island is at the left center and Dorsey's Bran Packing House at the far right center.



                   


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Plate 17. Looking northwest at the 1st Street Canal Gates during their reconstruction in 1885. The City Waterworks is at the far left.



                   


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Plate 18. Looking southeast down 1st Street during the reconstruction of the Waterpower Canal in 1885. The mills on the left side of the canal moving left to right are Minneapolis, Pillbury B, Excelsior, Minneapolis Paper (two stories), Northwestern, Pettit, Zenith, and Galaxy. The Palisade Mill is at the far end of the canal. To the right of the canal are the Washburn A Mill and the Washburn C Elevator.



                   


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Plate 21. Looking northwest up the east channel in 1901. The McMillan Tannery is at the left on the east edge of Hennepin Island. The Pillbury A Mill complex dominates the right side of the picture.



                   


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Plate 22. Looking north at the Boom Island and southern Bassett's Creek areas in about 1904. The Boom Island railroad yards are in the right center. Just to the south is the West Side Power building at the right center with the North Star Sawmill just to the left of it. The bridge in the center is the Plymouth Avenue Bridge with the Broadway Bridge and a Northern Pacific Railroad bridge to the north. Note the large stacks of lumber and the numerous steam-powered sawmills along the river.



                   


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Plate 23. Looking north at the East Side Mill District in 1920. The Exposition Building is on the left and the Pillbury A Mill complex at the right. In the left center are the Hennepin Island Waterworks, the General Electric Hydropower Station, and the Hennepin Island Hydropower Station. Spirit Island is in the lower right.



                   


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Plate 24. Looking west at the West Side Mill District in the early 1920s.



                   


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Plate 25. Looking southeast at the Bassett's Creek and Gateway areas in the mid-1920s.



                   


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1885



                   


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1885



                   


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Canal gates 1885



                   


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Ca 1874



                   


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Ca 1890



                   


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Hennepin Island - St. Anthony 1863



                   


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Hennepin Island - East 1872



                   


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Ca 1880



                   


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St Anthony apron construction ca 1866



                   


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St. Anthony - East ca 1862




 
Vol. 48, No. 1-2   1989 The Minnesota Archaeological Society

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