Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Cold Place To Sleep - And Giveaway!


by Chloe Ellefson, Historic Sites Curator

The Chloe Ellefson Mysteries

by Kathleen Ernst






Maybe it's my Scandinavian blood, but for the most part, I enjoy winter. Still, when the temps dip below zero, I like nothing better than cozying up to a warm fire.

I hope I never take such pleasures for granted. An experience I had last winter taught me a lot about simple blessings.

The Minnesota Historical Society was developing plans to turn an abandoned industrial flour mill in Minneapolis into a museum. A college friend, Ariel, asked me to help out.

The mill has enormous potential as a museum. During my visit, though, it was a frigid, spooky place.

The Washburn A Mill was the largest flour mill in the world when completed in 1874.


Never heard of it?  Well, this mill gave us Gold Medal Flour and Betty Crocker. It changed the way flour was produced, and played a big role in the economic development of Minneapolis and beyond.
The mill in its heyday.  The original building burned and was replaced with a more modern complex.
The mill was abruptly abandoned in 1965. Everything was left behind, which is kind of eerie.




It didn't stay empty, though.  It's a favorite place for kids to party.
Graffiti left by visitors.
And sadly, many people who are homeless also shelter there. The conflict between advocates for the homeless and city planners has no easy answers.


It's a difficult place to spend time, especially during the winter.  It's huge. The abandoned industrial equipment poses all kinds of danger.


It didn't help that during my orientation tour, a body was found stuffed into a piece of machinery.  Believe it or not, things just got worse from there.
Yep, right in one of those chutes where grain once flowed.
I still shiver when I think of the people with no better place to shelter during a Minnesota winter than that old mill. . . and when I think of how close I came to losing my own life there.

Want to know more?  You can read all about it.

***
GIVEAWAY!  Leave a comment below, and you'll be entered to win a copy of Tradition of Deceit, the 5th Chloe Ellefson Mystery. The Giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, January 18th. The winner will be announced on Thursday, January 19th. Please include your email.



Note:  The Chloe Ellefson Mysteries are set in the 1980s.  That abandoned flour mill is now the fabulous Mill City Museum.  It's well worth a visit!

85 comments:

  1. What an interesting post! Thanks for sharing. All the pictures really add to the story. I really need to start this series. It just climbed darn near the top of the TBR mountain!
    Rlewis11797 (at) yahoo (dot) com

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    1. Congratulations! Your name came out of the hat. I've sent an email with instructions on how to receive your signed copy of Tradition of Deceit.

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  2. Lots of great information that I never knew. Thanks for sharing. It would be a good place to stash a body. I am hoping your dates are wrong. LOL
    debby236 at gmail dot com

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  3. Interesting pictures. It seems such a shame to just abandon buildings like that. Thanks for the giveaway. New author and series to me.
    sallycootie(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Much of the complex has been beautifully repurposed; a lot of it is still waiting.

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  4. It's great when abandoned buildings can be re-purposed. turtle6422(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. I agree! And they did a great job with this one, leaving as much intact as possible.

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  5. A fascinating post and wonderful photos. Thanks for your giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  6. A wonderful series! I've only read one but loved it. Thanks for the chance.
    cjreynolds52(at)comcast(dot)net

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  7. I enjoyed this history and the interesting background and information. Many thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  8. I own the second book in the series and enjoyed it very much. My wife and I usually try to pick vacation sites based on historical or National sites for us to visit. It makes getting there a goal. I'd love to add this latest book to my collection.

    NoraAdrienne (at) gmail (dot) com

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    1. I love doing that too. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that one of my books inspired a visit!

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  9. I love the historical accuracy - and I'd love to read your new book! Thank you.
    teabird17 **at** yahoo () dot() com

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  10. I'd love to win. This series is new to me. lkleback@hotmail.com

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  11. What a fascinating introduction to a series. I am a fan of history - even history from the cold north. I am glad that the site has become a museum to allow everyone to see what was.

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    1. Me too. It's hard to interpret industrial heritage, and they did a great job of creating the museum.

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  12. Hi Chloe! I love reading your posts, especially with all the wonderful accompanying photographs. I really look forward to reading Kathleen Ernst's books! bobandcelia@sbcglobal.net

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  13. Very cool post! Your pictures are great.

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  14. Thank you for such a wonderful article. I enjoyed the article with the pictures. mommatoodle at msn dot com

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  15. Great article and mystery! I agree that the building could make a good museum or that it could be used for some benefit to the community due to its historic value. I have read the last two books in the series, making this one of my favorite historical cozy mystery series. Thank you for the opportunity to win! jeaniedannheim (at) ymail (dot) com

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    1. So glad you're enjoying the series. Thanks!

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  16. Not entering but wanted to say that this history is fascinating.

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  17. I'm so glad to hear that the mill has found a new life.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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    1. It took real vision to make that happen.

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  18. The Mill City Museum is just a few blocks from my best friend's house so we've gone there a couple times---very informative. Thanks for this article.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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  19. What a great article! I really enjoy reading books featuring historical places and learning their story. Looking forward to reading "Tradition of Deceit".
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  21. Used to live up near there. It was a hulk, that's for sure.

    Sort of makes me think about what they're going to do with the Oscar Meyer plant here in Madison now.

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    1. Good question. I said earlier it takes vision to rehab an industrial complex...of course it also takes resources.

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  22. Love the series and Old World Wisconsin mymixes@hotmail.com

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  23. This sounds like a great series! Zeta(at)iwon(dot)com

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  24. Hoping and Wishing! bobwiesmann-at-gmail-dot-com

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  25. wow, what an interesting post. I loved reading this, I cannot even think the times I have driven past there. In fortunate I do not live in the state anymore to explore the area. This is a new series to me sure would love to win this. Georgia queenvictoria50 (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the post! I love writing about real places.

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  26. Great post. I agree with you about winter. I love the cold weather. Unfortunately, I live in Florida where we have maybe 6 to 12 cold days a year. I enjoy reading each new book in The Chloe Ellefson Mysteries. Thank you for a chance to win! Have a great week. Doodlesink@hotmail.com

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    1. I think I'd have a hard time living anyplace where I didn't have distinct seasons. I've been living in Wisconsin since 1982, and evidently I've adjusted! (After growing up in Maryland)

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  27. What a fabulous post. Thank You!!

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  28. I very much enjoy these historical mysteries. dbahn(at)iw(dot)net

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  29. I love this historical background for the flour mill, so interesting in its own right! It will make me think differently when I drive by old building like these. What an awesome way to introduce your book, I'm excited to read it! Thanks for the giveaway. Melissa(dot)friedrich123(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks, Melissa! I usually focus on rural history, so this was a new experience for me. I found it fascinating.

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  30. Fascinating. I love our American history long gone by. seascapelife at gmail dot com

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  31. Thank you for the history lesson. It is an interesting story. I enjoy books that include a historical factor to them.
    Can't wait to read this book. robeader53(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Robin, I write about real places and do my best to weave a fictional story among the (amazing) real stories I find. Hope you enjoy.

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  32. Wow love the pictursand the history behind very interesting! Love historical places and things! I love seeing old time things and the the were used!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Mary. I love writing about real places!

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  33. Sounds amazing. Thanks for the chance to win.

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  34. wow. that isn't real? I felt that it was!

    mysandycat (at) aol (dot) com

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  35. Loved Memories of Muskets. Can't wait to read another!

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    1. I'm delighted to hear you enjoyed the latest Chloe adventure! I'm finishing up the next one.

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  36. I do enjoy reading about real places and events. Thank you for this chance. Donamaekutska7@gmail.com

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  37. Love how you make History FUN!
    Woofmew@aol.com

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  38. What an interesting post & the photos really added to it. Thanks for the giveaway. doward1952(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  39. Great post! Thanks for the opportunity. dalubbert(at)hotmail(dot)(c0m)

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  40. This book sounds amazing!! Thank you for the giveaway! Piogkm19@aol.com

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  41. Looks like a good book to read wurthmargaret@yahoo.com

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  42. Loved the post and photos! Can't wait to read "Tradition of Deceit!" eileendotmdotdrake(at)gmaildotcom

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  43. Congratulations to BEC, giveaway winner. And thanks for all the comments. Happy reading!

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