The World’s Finest Flour Mills
John and George Archibald founded Rice County’s Dundas city in 1867, naming it after their hometown – Dundas – in Ontario, Canada. At the time, Rice County was filled with prestigious flour mills that produced some of the highest quality flour in the nation. The Archibald family’s mill on the Cannon River was the most famous of them all.
Farmers journeyed hundreds of miles to process their wheat at Archibald Mill because it produced the finest quality flour around. Archibald Mill flour, known as “Extra,” was both nationally and internationally renowned, and sold for several dollars more per bushel than other competing flours.
George H. Christian, a flour broker from La Crosse, set out to learn the secret of Archibald Mill’s technique. He befriended Archibald and took careful note of every mention of his flour mill. What he found is described in Paul R. Fossum’s Early Milling In the Cannon River Valley:
“…As the story of Archibald’s process was pieced together, it became evident that the key to his success was the La Croix purifier combined with the method of setting the stones high, so as only to crack the berry, and of running the middlings through a series of stones each set a little closer than the last and all run at less than half the ordinary speed. This produced an even, white flour of the smoothest and finest kind with a minimum of offal.”
Along with the Archibald Mills’ incredible success came devastating challenges. A fire destroyed the mills in 1892, and a second fire ravaged the reconstructed mills in 1914. When business started to decline, the Archibalds sold their famous mills to a group in Minneapolis in 1930. Their patents were sold to America’s current grain monopoly, General Mills, and the mills themselves were abandoned during construction, where they still lie in ruins on the Cannon Riverfront.
Visit the castle-like ruins of Archibald Mills in Dundas, and read more about Rice County’s milling industry in Fossum’s Early Milling In the Cannon River Valley, available online.
How would you use Archibalds’ “Extra” flour?
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