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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Visit to Welch, Minnesota

Right at the midpoint of the Cannon Valley Bicycle Trail, we came to Welch Minnesota.  I thought it would be a nice place to stop and visit, so I rode the 1/3 of a mile into town.
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As the sign suggests, Welch was a town that grew up around its feed mill,

I stopped in at the local restaurant and ice cream shop to visit.  I found an interesting town history with this photo on the cover.

The mill is long closed.  It now functions as a starting spot for tubing on the Cannon River.  I guess you could also say it is a milling museum with the equipment exhibited out front.

But look closely at the top of the mill in that first picture and you might spot the remnants of a Pillsbury's Best "barrel-head" logo.  It took me a while to realize that this must have been part of the Pillsbury Feed Ingredients Division.

A Pillsbury Feed Mill was the center of many a small town in the mid-west from the 1940's on.  This company history makes only a brief mention of the Feed Ingredients Division, run by Phil Lindau back in the 1970s and 80s.
The agriproducts group had long been run by Fred C. Pillsbury, Charles S. Pillsbury's brother, who developed cattle feeds from mill byproducts before the turn of the century. The division grew to become responsible for the collection, milling, storage, trading, and distribution of grain and feed ingredients. Pillsbury continued to provide about 10 percent of U.S. flour into the 1980s, and the division became one of the largest U.S. purchasers of grains and dry beans.
Ah, the stories that could be told based on just the last two words in that paragraph!  (Pillsbury bought 69 mill and bean processing facilities from the Wickes Furniture and Lumber company in 1982.   Ah, sweet memories!)

While Feed Ingredients might only have been a small part of Pillsbury, it was a big part of many towns.  Here are a couple of ads that ran in local papers back in the 1950's.  The first is from Atchison, Kansas, a major Pillsbury location.
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O yes!  I drifted off topic again, didn't I?  The ice cream shop.  It's the Trout Scream Cafe.

Lunch looked pretty good.  We may have to come back.  It's easy to locate, once you reach Welch.  You can find it right next to the Post Office and across the street from the mill.

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