When I was in Minneapolis last summer for a leadership conference, I had the opportunity to photograph a Mill Ruins Park anniversary session for Lea and Josh. Being somewhat new to the Twin Cities area, they hadn’t had an opportunity to do much exploring, so they were excited to experience this piece of Minneapolis history. Because of its proximity, we were also able to access the Stone Arch Bridge which made the ruins an all the more enticing location. We knew we’d get to explore the area more and as a bonus, get lots of variety in our backdrops!
Mill Ruins Park is an archeological site of abandoned flour mills on the west bank of the Mississippi River. These mills were powered by the water flowing from St. Anthony Falls. In addition to mill ruins, the park also has pier remnants from a railroad bridge which are the large steel girders in the photos below. But I think the coolest thing is that the excavators were able to restore the water flow to the tailrace canal which is a water channel that directed water away from a mill after it had generated power.
The Stone Arch Bridge has a storied history which begins in the 1880’s and ultimately leads to the structure being added to the National Register of Historic Places, as well as being declared a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It was initially a railroad bridge built to help move people and products across the Mississippi River, specifically wheat which would be delivered to the city’s various mills.
The Stone Arch Bridge in now a walking and bike trail part of the 1.8 mile self-guided interpretive St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail. I didn’t do the entire trail (I have to save something for my next trip!) but I did walk the entire bridge and it’s truly a landmark not to be missed. It is, after all, the only arched bridge on the Mississippi made of stone and the second oldest on the river. Plus it gives you a great view of the Mississippi River’s only waterfall!
Minneapolis is such a beautiful city and has tons of great locations for couples to consider for their session, but we loved the atmosphere and the views in this area of the city. Plus it was really cool to be able to have an urban adventure in a modern day archeological site!
If you’d like to plan your own photo session at one or both of these sites, a permit is required from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. At the time of publication, the fee is $47 for 1.5 hours per location. Your shoot can’t interfere with the flow of traffic, it doesn’t grant exclusive use of any area, and you must have the permit with you at the time of your shoot. Be sure to budget the permit fees into your session and let your photographer know about these legalities so you don’t get removed from the site(s).