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Washburn 'A' Mill Explosion : Overview

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Ruins of Washburn A Mill after explosion, Minneapolis"The Great Mill Explosion and Fire of 1878."
In Hennepin County History, vol. 16-2, no. 62 (Apr. 1956): pp. 9-10.
MNHS call number: Reading Room F612.H52 H4 v.16:62

Edwin H. Brown and Family Papers.
Family papers document many aspects of the lives of members of the Brown, Hall, and Christian families, including the Minneapolis flour milling industry (1860s-1870s), especially the Washburn ‘A’ Mill explosion in 1878.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid 

"How Newspapers Reported a Milling Disaster 125 Years Ago", by William Huntzicker.
​In Hennepin History, vol. 62, no. 2 (spring 2003).
MNHS call number: Reading Room F612.H52 H42 v.62:2


On May 2, 1878, the Washburn ‘A’ Mill — the largest flour mill in the United States at that time — exploded. The mill exploded when flour dust in the air inside it ignited. The explosion claimed 18 lives, decimated the surrounding area, and brought instant notoriety to Minneapolis. The tragic explosion led to reforms in the milling industry. Ventilation systems and other precautionary devices were devised in order to prevent further tragedy.

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