This section of the river has attracted people for thousands of years. For Native Americans the falls were not only an impediment for traveling the river, but was also a source of mystery. For Americans the sound of falling water was also the sound of money. Visitors can explore the history of flour mills and sawmills that once lined the both the east and west banks of the river and powered their mills with the power of falling water at the falls. The Mill City Museum is a great way to learn more, but walking across the Stone Arch Bridge, visiting Mill Ruins Park and the Saint Anthony Visitor Center perched above the lock shouldn't be missed.
Mill Ruins Park opened on Oct. 1, 2001, to celebrate the history of 19th-century ruins that were once mills and powered by St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi. During the 19th-century, flour became what put Minneapolis on the map and was exported around the nation and world.
The Mississippi River played a key role in developing the Milling District at the Minneapolis Riverfront. The mills and canals along the river made up the largest direct-drive, water-powered facilities in the world and greatly increased the production of flour.
In 1994, the Stone Arch Bridge was converted into a pedestrian and bike trail. Visitors can walk across the bridge to take in the views of St. Anthony Falls, the only waterfall on the entire Mississippi River. The bridge links Mill Ruins Park on the west and Father Hennepin Bluffs Park on the east bank.
The park is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, adjacent to St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge and is known as the focal point of the Minneapolis Milling District.
One of our suggested walks includes hiking across the Stone Arch Bridge to Southeast Main Street. Turn northwest and continue up Main and turn left onto 3rd Avenue (Central Ave Southeast) and cross the 3rd Avenue Bridge. From there hike back to your starting point. There are restaurants, some with outdoor dining, and plenty to do along the way. Be sure to explore Mill Ruins Park.
Hours, Directions, and Contact Information
Ard Godfrey House, First Bridge Park, Gold Medal Park, Mill City Museum, St. Anthony Falls, Stone Arch Bridge, St. Anthony Falls Visitor Center
Last updated: February 28, 2020