"Go for Gold" by Bill Svoboda

"Go for Gold" by Bill Svoboda

There's one building in the Minneapolis skyline that stands out as I think about the rich history along the Mississippi River ... the Gold Medal Flour building.

Nestled beside the Guthrie theater and in the same neighborhood as restaurants featuring local flavors, to multi-million dollar condos and apartments, this building stands as a marker of our past... and it feels like it fits perfectly into this neighborhood ... unchanged amidst all the change of the city behind it.

In the early days of milling this area was ravaged by an incident that rocked this neighborhood.

The Atlas Obscura blog says it best ... "The men who worked at the Washburn A Mill processing flour knew they had a dangerous job. A conveyor belt could break, whip around, and cut you deep across the face. You could get your fingers caught in any one of the many pieces of grinding, chopping, whirling bits of exposed machinery and lose your hand and your ability to make a living.

Of course, there were longer-term dangers as well. After breathing in floating flour particles day after day, you started waking in the night, finding yourself coughing up what looked like little bits of dough, mixed inside your lungs. Known as Baker’s Disease, it was slow, foul, and deadly.

But none of these dangers came close to the greatest threat the workers faced. With millions of flammable particulates floating in the air, flour mills were powder kegs of a sort. All it took was a single spark. On May 2, 1878, the nightmare came true.  In a single instant, the largest flour mill in the world was a crumpled ruin, and all 14 men who worked in the mill were dead."

Today I love that amidst all of the luxury in this neighborhood, this building remains as a monument of our past. It shows where we've come from ... it's unchanged by time.

When I walk across the Stone Arch and see this in the horizon, I think about our history ... a history full of little things that have shaped this city.  And I find myself in that story ... walking towards my next adventure ... and hoping to leave a better mark on the world, making it a better place after I'm gone.

As you look at this drawing, I hope you enjoy our history as it sits in our present moment, but as you think about how you can make an impact on the future. 

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