Edina Mills Site


West 50th Street and Browndale Avenue
Edina, MN 55424


The importance of the Minnehaha Creek waterpower resource in early Edina history can hardly be overestimated. When the area was first settled in the mid-nineteenth century, the creek was seen as an inexhaustible power source that could be harnessed for a wide range of industrial uses.
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Even after steam engines rendered waterwheels obsolete, the power of falling water continued to be an important economic resource.

The site was originally part of a quarter-section tract claimed by William Hoyt in 1855. The following year, Hoyt sold the property to a group of speculators who wanted to include the mill in their plans for a town called Waterville. The Waterville Mill (built by local carpenter William Marriott) was an active grist mill when William Rheem and Jonathan T. Grimes acquired the property in 1859. In 1867, the mill passed into the ownership of Daniel H. Buckwalter, who in turn sold the mill to Andrew Craik in 1869. Craik and his sons made many improvements to the mill, which they named the Edina Mill after Craik's home of Edinburgh, Scotland, and processed wheat, corn, rye, oats and barley for the "home" (i.e., local) market. Craik hired fellow Scotsman George Millam to manage the mill, and in 1875, Millam purchased the mill from Craik. In 1889, Millam sold the mill to Henry F. Brown, the Minneapolis lumberman who established a large stock farm in Edina. The Edina Mill formed part of the Browndale Farm estate that was purchased by Thorpe Bros. Realty in 1922 for the Country Club development. The site closed for good in 1906 after a series of floods made it difficult for the mill to stay open, and thereafter, was used to store grain.

Description & Heritage Landmark Designation

The Edina Mills Archaeological Site is located on Minnehaha Creek in Dwight Williams Park, a unit of the City park system. The only extant surface structure associated with the historic mill is the mill dam, which is located underneath the Browndale Bridge. This structure is a concrete gravity spillway with an uncontrolled crest approximately 24 feet in length. The abutment walls blend into the stream banks, which are high and have steep slopes. The raceway or flume from the Mill Pond, now filled in, runs for a distance of approximately 34 feet underneath the embankment formed by Browndale Avenue. The intake is buried under several feet of alluvium, fill and riprap. Several times over its history, the mill and associated structures were damaged by floodwaters. Owing to repeated fillings to prevent bank erosion, the creek bed is largely covered with boulders and large pieces of broken stone, and both banks have been armored with riprap.

The archaeological remains of the mill house are located on the left bank (descending) of the creek. The mill was a large timber and masonry structure measuring approximately 40 by 36 feet. The concrete piers and floors, as well as some timber framing members and foundation stones, lie buried under several feet of fill. After the archaeological work was completed, the city developed a small interpretation facility on the site, consisting of an information kiosk, a preserved millstone and an outline of the millhouse walls marked with square wooden posts.

The Edina Mills Site was designated an Edina Heritage Landmark in 2006, in recognition of its association with the Edina waterpower development and the beginnings of Edina. The 1977 archaeological investigation appears to have excavated only about 5% of the mill complex. The current state of knowledge about the site suggests that there is more to be discovered. The plan of treatment accompanying the landmark designation will protect the site and provide guidance for any future work contemplated for the area.