The magnificent Pillsbury A-Mill building was the world’s largest flour mill for an impressive 40 years. The mighty structure was finished in 1881 and was powered by two of the most powerful direct-drive water wheels ever built.
The mill was originally built to produce some 5,000 barrels of flour a day during an era when a 500-barrel mill was considered a large operation. After 1905, following technological improvements, it was churning out up to 17,500 barrels per day.
Though the mill stopped producing flour in 2003, the old building is still standing. In 2013, it was converted into eco-friendly artist lofts. A heat pump system that extracts heat from the river water and a hydroelectric turbine turned by river water running through the tunnel that served the original milling equipment provide 75 percent of the building’s energy needs.
But though its factory days are over, the building still holds onto bits of its industrial past. It still contains its original timber frame, and the walls still bow inward on the top because of the vibrations from the milling machines. Old industrial machines like gear wheels and a rail track lie around the outside of the building, and the old “Pillsbury’s Best Flour” sign still stands proudly atop the highest point of the complex.