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Cadwallader Washburn

Cadwallader Washburn
This guy with the big first name (and often called C.C.) probably was the major force in Minneapolis milling. Yet he never lived in the Twin Cities, and he wasn't a flour miller by training. Born in Maine, he moved west at age 21 and eventually settled in Mineral Point, Wis., (where he practiced law) and served as Wisconsin governor in the 1870s. What won him fame here was that he bought water-power rights on the Mississippi River and soon operated a string of flour mills in Minneapolis. The new museum is on the site of one of them -- Washburn's A Mill, destroyed in an 1878 explosion and rebuilt the next year.

Just a few months after the explosion, he formed a partnership with another Maine businessman, John Crosby. They and their rival, the Pillsbury Co., made Minneapolis famous as the nation's flour-milling capital. Washburn died in 1882, leaving behind a company that's still in business; it became General Mills in 1928 and is headquartered in the Minneapolis suburb of Golden Valley.

Washburn's name still is prominent: it's a Minneapolis street, a high school and part of WCCO radio and television's name, originally short for the Washburn-Crosby Company. Washburn, troubled by the large number of children who lost fathers in the 1878 Washburn A Mill Explosion, provided $375,000 in his will for an orphanage. It has evolved into the present-day Washburn Child Guidance Center.

Article Courtesy of Peg Meier,  Star Tribune

September 7, 2003