AUGUST 2019

AUGUST  2019
Trying to Make the Suit Fit. A Regular Crises of Democracy

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Friday, September 20, 2019

SAY A PRAYER for the DONNER PARTY


I have walked the Alder Creek meadows, and the trails around the lake and I found it difficult to conceive of the anguish and horrors that haunt those places. It was mid-May and warm and green and filled with life. Song birds flitted in the tall pines and deer cautiously peeked at me from the shadows. It was only when I paused to read the inscription at the base of the statue that it occurred to me that I had been aiming too low. The inscription explains that the snow that winter was almost as high as the stone base of that statue, 22 feet above my head. The horror at Donner Lake and The Meadows had happened twenty-eight feet in the air, on top of that snow.
It began as a romantic’s quest. The Gold Rush would not begin for two years when they set out from Ohio, in April of 1846: George Donner and his brother Jacob and their families, along with the family of James Reed: including hired hands, thirty-three souls all together, with oxen and cattle and chickens, all bound for California.  In mid-May,  while crossing the Green Rive Basin over the Rocky Mountains,  they met a misbegotten bunch who had read of a “better way west”,  a shortcut called the “Hastings Cutoff”.  It was the brainchild of Landsford Hastings, a better author than a trailblazer. And on Monday, 31 August, 1846,  the two groups elected George Donner as their leader. They then turned their backs on the established trail at Fort Bridger, Wyoming. Their numbers had grown to 89 humans in 21 wagons.
The “Cutoff” was a disaster from the very beginning.  It twisted and wound up and through and over the Wasatch Mountains. You cannot imagine the difficulties until you have walked a hundred yards up hill, straight through a dense wood.  Now imagine trying to clear a path through those same woods for a Conestoga wagon, five feet wide and sixteen feet long, without springs, with iron sheathed stiffened wooden wheels, pulled by four oxen and loaded with seven tons of everything you think you might require to start your life over. At the summit they walked themselves to the very edge of a cliff with no room to turn around, and had to unload the wagons and then lower them and their cargo and their oxen on ropes to the valley below.  They finally rejoined the trail on Saturday, 26 September. The shortcut of the “Cutoff” had left them three weeks behind.After the mountains, came the desert, where, at the “Humboldt Sink”, an entire river is consumed by the heat. By the first week in October the bold romantics had started to die. A sixty year old farmer from Ohio, known to them only as Mr. Hardcoop, was the first member of the Donner Party to die. His feet had swollen to bursting, and he was abandoned beneath a sage brush in the Nevada desert. Finally, on Thursday, 15 October they reached the valley of the Truckee River, and at Truckee Meadows - modern day Reno -  they paused, spending six precious days gathering their strength for the hurdle that faced them; the abrupt, front wall of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.Stand on the shore of Mono Lake (to the south of the Truckee) and you see what gave these romantics pause. A sudden and steep wall of granite rises 1,500 feet straight into the air. And that is only the first step of a staircase that quickly climbs to over 12.000 feet. The “notch” or “Pass” through the mountains that the Donner party sought out stands at  7,000 feet high. And there the moist Pacific air climbing the gentle western slope of the Sierra, meets two lakes (Tahoe and Donner) and produces 415 inches of snow in an average year. In an average year winter storms produce ridge line winds of 100 miles an hour and higher, and temperatures down to -45 F.  It was into this that the Donner Party began to climb the last days of October, 1846.  There was already a dusting of snow in the pass. But this  was not destined to be an average year in the Sierra.It started to snow heavily on Saturday, 31 October 1846 -  Halloween. The party was already broken. A wagon had flipped over and snapped an axle.  George Donner and his family had stopped along Alder Creek to repair it.  Meanwhile the majority had pressed six miles farther on. They had actually reached the summit of the Sierras. They were at the very edge of safety. Had they been one day, maybe one hour, sooner, they might have made it. They would have all lived. But within hours of that first gentle flake floating down to melt on a human cheek, six feet of snow fell, driving the romantics back to the eastern shore of the lake where there was a cabin and level ground. And there they stayed. And there almost half of them died.
There were ten major storms that winter. A January storm formed ice in San Francisco, and in March it snowed in Monterrey. At Alder Creek, where the winter was not quite as harsh as at the summit, George Donner cut trees off at the top of the snow pack, leaving a record of what they faced. At the pass itself the snow was ten to fifteen feet higher.

The wonder is not that so many died, or that they were reduced to cannibalism, but that any at all lived.  In that endless winter, 41 died and 46 survived. Out of fifty-five males, thirty-two died. Out of thirty-four women just nine died. All the single males over twenty-one years old starved to death.
On Thursday, 29 April, 1847, Louis Keseberg (above), a 32-year-old German immigrant., with $225 in stolen gold coins hidden in his waistcoat, was carried into Sutters’ Fort, at present day Sacramento, California. He was the last survivor of the Donner Party to be rescued, having survived 181 days trapped in the snowy mountains.  Branded a cannibal, Louis died in 1895. Wrote a newspaperman, “He took his last breath in a hospital for the poor. The only thing in his pockets was lint. ” 
And in 1935, Iabella Breen McMahon, who had been a one year old infant during that starvation winter, died at the age of 79. She was the last survivor of the Donner Party to die.
If you get the chance to walk Alder Creek meadows, or the trails around the Eastern edge of Donner Lake please, say a prayer for all of those who preceded you. And for all of us who are destined to follow.
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Thursday, September 19, 2019

CAN YOU SAY "PONZI SCHEME", It Ain't History


I doubt that you have ever heard of 67 year old Robert Dean White, but you really ought to hear what he has to say.  Federal prosecutors have an extensive library of the imparted wisdom of Mr. White, and my personally favorite “cut” is his description of the parent firm he worked for, “The Petters Group Worldwide”, as “…a Ponzi scheme.” They should have been replaying that little tune in every hedge fund board room in Greenwich, Connecticut.  It has been the Musak of the Bush era Neo-con dead-end investment club we all became investors in.  This is what becomes of people who actually start to believe that capitalism has their best interests at heart. Capitalism has no heart. That is what government is supposed to provide.  But, let me not get ahead of myself, here.
Charles Ponzi (AKA Charles Ponei, AKA Charles P. Bianchi) was far from the first to invent this kind of scheme. He just put his name on it. He was an Italian immigrant who stumbled upon the International Postal Reply Coupon, a now defunct system of international postage. The price of IPRC stamps varied from nation to nation, and Ponzi convinced investors that he was buying the stamps cheaply in Italy, in huge bulk, and selling them for a profit in America. He promised a 400% return on investments and seemed to be making good on that promise. People actually paid him to take their money. Ponzi went, in 1919,  from a penniless ex-con to a millionaire. In July of 1920 alone he made $420,000 - $5 million in 2019. 
Then in August of 1920 the Boston Post asked the U.S. Post Office how many IPRC’s Ponzi had actually exchanged and found out the number was zero.  He was using new investments to pay off old investors, and pocketing a substantial profit. By September of 1920 Ponzi was in jail. The vast majority of his investors lost everything. A team of accountants searched valiantly for months but were never able to reconstruct where all the money had disappeared to. After serving his sentence and being deported,. Ponzi told an Italian reporter not to feel sorry for his victims, “Even if they never got anything for it, it was cheap at that price,” he said. “It was easily worth fifteen million bucks to watch me put the thing over.”  Evidently, darn few noticed. As a 16 year old high school student Tom Petters leased an office in downtown St. Cloud, Minnesota, out of which he sold stereo equipment to college students. When his father found out about the venture the budding entrepreneur was pulled up by his short hairs and forced to close it all down. But Tom was just starting slow.
In 1988 he formed The Petters Group World Wide (“Partnership Defined”), which eventually became a self described $2.3 billion investment group, with 3,200 employees.  In June of 2002 Tom and Ted Deikel bought the name and inventory “Fingerhut”, which marketed overpriced novelty sunglasses and other items,  from Federated Department Stores.  A year later he bought eBid.com. Two years later he shelled out $246 million for Polaroid.  They used own the "instant picture" business.  In October 2006 he joined with Whitebox Advisors to buy Sun Country Airlines. In February 2007 he bought the marketing company Juice Media World Wide, and in November he became sole owner of Sun Country.  In 2008 his acquisitions accelerated. He bought EducAsian in January, the magazine conglomerate Metropolitan Media Group in July and the charter airline Southwest Aviation and Enable Holdings, Inc., both in August. 
During the summer of 2008, the moral pressure on insiders became so great that Ms. Deanna Coleman, vice president of operations for Petters Co., contacted the Security and Exchange Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation . And in September of 2008 the F.B.I. raided John’s home and offices, and those of Mr. Robert Dean White, Petters Group's Chief Financial Officer.
Tom’s entire house of cards folded like…well, like a house of cards. Just a month prior to his personal Goetterdaemerung, Tom explained to the fawning students of the Carlson School of Management, “You’ve got to figure out how to leverage and move things forward and not backwards. Sometimes sideways and left and not always how you had anticipated.” But evidently Tom did anticipate what was coming because he is heard on one of the tapes the F.B.I. made with Ms. Coleman help, admitting he cheated on his taxes, and used an employee to create false documents to fool investors, but that he “didn’t know what choice” he had. I guess, in his mind,  honesty was not a viable choice.The Feds alleged that for ten years Tom has been showing investors purchase orders to prove he was selling merchandise to Walmart. But when one investor finally checked with Walmart,  the Arkansas firm said the P.O. numbers were fake and they had never bought anything from any of Tom’s many, many companies.   This revelation led to a full Federal audit of PGW which showed $1.9 billion in the “in” drawer and $3.5 billion in bills in the “out” drawer. And since the Feds lack the creative accounting of Wall Street types, owing more than you own equals bankruptcy. Ah, if they only had the imagination of Tom Petters or Charles Ponzi  or Donald Trump, they would know that being in debt was just another opportunity.
On 8 October, 2008, the following story appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper, written by Dan Browning., "...Coleman, 42, of Wayzata...pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Her guilty plea was one of three Wednesday. Robert Dean White, 67, of Excelsior, and Michael Catain, 52, of Shorewood, also admitted to their roles in the scheme, which involved the creation of false bank statements and other documents that were used to trick investors into funding what they called a giant Ponzi scheme...White has agreed to help prosecutors with the case and could receive a reduced sentence if he provides substantial assistance....Allan Caplan, (Ms. Coleman's) attorney, said Coleman realizes that means she "will be penniless" for the rest of her life..."She wanted to bring it to a screeching halt,"
According to Wikipedia - Petters is incarcerated at the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth Kansas. He will be eligible for parole on 25 April, 2052, when he would be 95 years old. I guess he did not cooperate very much at all. 
William Cohan,  the one time Wall Street investment banker and author, wrote a 2009 best selling book, entitled "House of Cards: How Wall Street's Gamblers Broke Capitalism."  But, in truth, the story has been told before, a million times, and not just on Wall Street, or even Minneapolis.  HonorĂ© de Balzac  actually put the reality of capitalism down on paper well over a hundred years ago, when he wrote, "The secret of a great fortune made without apparent cause is soon forgotten., if the crime is committed in a respectable way."  
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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

MURDER BY CAD; Lord Lucan Gets Away.

The murderer was Richard John (Lucky) Bingham (above), the Seventh Earl of Lucan.  There was never a mystery about that.  He stood six feet four inches tall, was dark and handsome and debonair and a blue blood. 
He was a professional gambler and descended from a long line of royal cads. His great-great-great grandfather, the second Earl, gained infamy during the Irish Potato Famine as the very epitome of a heartless, greedy English landowner, throwing starving Irish peasants out of their homes. John’s Great-great-Grandfather, George Charles Bingham, the third Earl, was the cad who ordered the charge of the Light Brigade. The Fifth Earl, George Charles Bingham, sat out the First World War in the House of Lords, but liked to be called “Major” a rank he achieved between the wars when there was no shooting going on. And John’s father had shocked the family by switching his alliance to the Labor Party in the 1930’s.
John chose his profession the way most gamblers do, right after a winning streak: he won twenty-six thousand pounds in two days, while playing backgammon. What John did not know was that his gambling club of choice, the Clermont Club, was in fact a den of thieves. One associate of the clubs’s owner, John Aspinall, described the Claremont as “…like robbing Fort Knox or the Bank of England - just a lot easier.”  Aspinall referred to his upper class customers as “pigeons”, and treated them like that too. Lord Lucan was such a favored pigeon that Aspinall had a bust of him placed on display in the club
In November of 1963 John married the petit and pretty Veronica Duncan.  She gave birth to three children; a daughter, Frances, in October 1964, George (the heir) in 1967, and Camilla, born in June of 1970.
John seems to have always been a control freak, and one nanny would later claim that John regularly beat Veronica with a stick wrapped in masking tape when she suffered from postpartum depression .  Veronica would not admit the abuse until decades later, saying " he would beat her with a cane to get the “mad ideas out of your head”...He could have hit me harder. They were measured blows. He must have got pleasure out of it because he had intercourse (with me) afterwards”.
Lady Lucan's untreated depression became worse after Camilla was born, and required medical assistance for herself,. and a young nanny, Sandra Rivett,   to help her care for the children.
Meanwhile, his Lordship had discovered that not only was the income of a professional gambler prone to ups and downs, it was also prone to its own addictions. By the mid 1970’s John was spending the wee hours of each morning, after putting his time in at the backgammon tables, playing what he had once labeled as the “mugs games” of roulette and craps and even bridge; and he was losing at them all, being fleeced by his friend John Aspinall.
The marriage bent under the strain of mounting bills and Veronica’s personal struggles, and the couple separated. John moved into an apartment a few blocks away from their five story London townhouse at 46 Lower Bellgrave Street (above) . (It was just around the corner from Buckingham Palace.) He hired a private detective to spy on his wife and gather information for what he was certain would be an eventual divorce.
Lord Lucan was now suffering from regular headaches, and drinking heavily. He became obsessed with regaining control of his children. When he could no longer afford the Private Investigator,  John turned to stalking Veronica himself.   In March of 1973, John kidnapped his children and sued to gain legal custody.  But in June the judge sided with Veronica.  He labeled John’s behavior as “lawless” and granted Veronica full custody. All three children moved back into the mansion on Lower Bellgrave.  What with child support, alimony, Veronica’s medical care and the cost of a nanny, the judge’s decision left John in debt for forty thousand pounds. So John began to make other plans.
By 9:30 P.M. on the night of Friday 8 November 1974 the two younger children had been put to bed. Frances was watching television with her mother in the family room on the second floor when, just before ten, the new nanny, Sandra Rivett, (above) poked her head in the door and asked if there was anything else she could do before going home. On a whim Veronica suggested a cup of tea, and Sandra went down to the basement kitchen to put the kettle on. Thirty minutes later, when Sandra had not returned, Veronica went downstairs to see what had become of her. When she reached the darkened main floor she was attacked by a man wielding a bent pipe.
He struck her several times in the head. Veronica tried to cry out, but the man ordered her to “shut up”, and roughly shoved two gloved fingers down her throat. Veronica instantly recognized the voice as John’s. She fought back, grabbed John by his testicles and squeezed as hard as she could. He released his grip and the two collapsed on the floor in heap. 
Gathering her courage and her voice, Veronica asked where Sandra was. John admitted he had just murdered the nanny.  In the dark of the basement he said, he had mistaken her for his wife (they were both 5’2” and slightly built). Thinking quickly Veronica assured John that Sandra would not be missed, and that in order to avoid a scandal she would help him dispose of the body. John led her to the second floor where they both told Francis to go upstairs to her own bedroom. In the master bedroom Veronica lay on the bed while John went in to the bathroom to wet a washcloth. And the second Veronica heard the water running she leapt off the bed, ran down the stairs and out of the house.
She stumbled down the street to the Plumber’s Arms Pub. In her nightdress and covered in blood, she made quite an impression. She gasped hoarsely to the startled patrons, “Murder, murder, I think my neck has been broken - he tried to kill me” Back at the house, when John realized that Veronica had escaped, he ran for it. They found poor Sandra stuffed in a bloody sack near the basement door. She had been horribly bludgeoned to death.
John’s apartment was empty. The police would discover he driven forty miles to a friend’s farmhouse, and told them he had been passing the home on Lower Bellgrave when he saw an attacker through a basement window.  He said he had rushed in,  only to be knocked down by the attacker. Then, realizing he would be blamed for the murder, he claimed, he had run away.  He called his mother twice. The second time she asked if John wanted to speak to the police officer who was with her. John hung up. And then, after his friends went back to sleep, Lord Lucan disappeared.
Three days after the attack they found his car parked on a public street near the docks in Newhaven. In the car was his passport and a note to a friend,  asking him to look after his children. In the trunk was a bloody length of pipe, bent by the beating administered to the innocent Sandra Rivett and Veronica.
For decades the police continued to search for Lord Lucan. An entire industry sprang up,  seeking the most famous missing royal murderer in recent history.  John was reported living happily in Australia, South Africa, and even India. 
But oddly enough none of this string of "Could-Be Johns" has displayed a gambling addiction, or an affinity to act like nobility .  In 1984 Scotland Yard tried to reopen the case but it ran into another dead end. 
The last suspected "John" was a man living in a van in New Zealand with a pet possum, a cat and a goat. But like all the others, he turned out to be somebody else.
Veronica Lucan, (http://www.ladylucan.co.uk/) never remarried,  and always insisted that John threw himself into the Thames estuary (the Solent), probably on 9 or 10 November.  And to tell you the truth, I agree with her.  Over time her mental illness slowly took control of her mind, and by the time she died at 80 years of age,  in October of 2017, she was estranged from her children, and found alone in her Belgrave apartment.
Still it makes a much more interesting story if Lord Lucan managed to escape to someplace, Tahiti maybe, or perhaps Ceylon. But like the famous missing Judge Crater in the United States, Lord Lucan will likely remain not dead, but missing, forever. Because that’s the way most people prefer their harsh reality; with a softening dose of myth.
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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

DUST TO DUST; The great 1878 Mill Explosion

I don't blame C.C. (Cadwallader Colden) Washburn for the tragedy of 1878. Forty years earlier, the ambitious 21 year old had arrived in Chicago with just $5 in his pocket. But by 1855 C.C. had passed the bar, had been elected to Congress from Wisconsin, and was worth at least half a million dollars. Not bad for a kid born with epilepsy. It was about then that his older brother Elihu wrote him, “I don't believe you will be happy until you could buy the entire world.” Elihu was teasing, because C.C. didn't actually have half a million dollars.  Yet. That was how much he had borrowed to buy the companies he had already bought. And now he was trying to rescue a cousin, Dorolus Morrison, who had invested in a money pit called the The Minneapolis Mill Company. The firm had water rights on the west bank of the Mississippi at St. Anthony Falls (above), and the idea was to lease access to mill owners. Within two years, the Mill Company was broke and going broker.
C.C. immediately saw the problem. There were nearly 4,000 people in Minneapolis, and space along the the falls was limited.  In 1856 C.C. bought a controlling interest in the Mill Company, borrowed more cash to build a dam across the falls, and dig a 50 foot wide 14 food deep canal (above) down the west bank, more than tripling the available access to the power of the falling water.  Then he brought in his younger brother William to run the company, while he concentrated on being a congressman. Older brother Elihu was already a congressman from Illinois and baby brother Israel, Jr. had been elected from Maine. They were a very ambitious family.
Within ten years the customers of C.C.'s Minneapolis Mill Company - grist mills, saw mills, cotton mills and woolen mills - were so profitable, that upon his return from service as a Union General in the Civil War, C.C. built his own flour mill. Against the advice of experts, who were predicting a post war recession, it was the largest flour mill in the world. And on William's advice, C.C. hired George Christian to run the Washburn “B” Mill.  Quickly the “B” Mill was a success, in part because of Christian's management and in part because there was no post war recession.
After two more terms in Congress, and a single term as Wisconsin Governor, C.C. returned to his home in La Crosse., Wisconsin.  But he did not retire. On the advice of George Christian, C.C. decided in 1874, to build a second, even larger flour mill in Minneapolis. This one he called the Washburn “A “ Mill.
The “A” mill was 100 feet wide and 147 feet long. Wheat entered on the ground floor and driven by the power of the falling water in the canal, a screw, powered by turbines in the basement  lifted the grain seven and one half stories. Here the grain was fed into a container, into which hot air was blown. 
Once dry, the wheat was carried by another screw down to the sixth floor and crushed between the first horizontal millstones, which cracked the hard center and released the bran. 
Floor after floor the bran descended, with each successive grindstone, 24 pairs in all, crushing the wheat ever finer, with shakers (above) repeatedly shifting the flour...
...until it was returned to the ground floor where the employees bagged the flour and loaded it into....
...railroad box cars waiting along the 32 tracks that then carried it to a hungry nation - half a million barrels of flour shipped in 1873, three quarters of a million barrels in 1874, a hundred thousand more in 1875, and one million barrels in 1876 .
Just like every other day for the previous four years, at six in the evening on Thursday, 2 May, 1878, 200 workers were released from their 12 hour day shift at the Washburn “A” Mill, leaving behind 14 men  overnight to clean up and ready it's machinery  for Friday's shift. 
It is unknown if they faced any difficulties or problems that night, but at approximately 7:20 a man walking across the tenth avenue bridge (above)  reported seeing a flash in the twilight and a “stream of fire” leaping from the basement windows of the Washburn “A”.
He continued, “Then each floor above the basement became brilliantly illuminated, the light appearing simultaneously at the windows as the stories ignited one above the other...Then the windows bust out, the walls cracked between the windows and fell, and the roof was projected into the air to great height, followed by a cloud of black smoke, through which brilliant flashes resembling lightening passing to and fro.” It was later reckoned the massive roof was thrown 500 feet into the air.
Most said they heard three distinct, massive explosions. Reported the Minneapolis Tribune, “...in a twinkling of an eye...the largest, the highest, and probably the heaviest stone structure in Minneapolis, the great Washburn mill...was leveled to the ground....Soon the burning buildings sent their messengers of flame on the wings of the merciless north wind on to other fields of destruction. ... the wonder is that the whole lower portion of the city escaped the fate with which it was threatened.” Great limestone corner stones landed in the back yards of homes eight blocks from the milling district.
The volunteer fire department reported all their alarms went off at the same instant, but if that was because some one near the “A” mill hit the alarm just after the first explosion, or if the blast short circuited the line, will never be known. Ten miles away, the explosions broke windows on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, whose Globe newspaper issued a special edition, saying, “"There is an 'earthquake’ was the expression and thought of hundreds ... and the word went from lip to lip, almost with the rapidity of lightning, that the Washburn mill, which has long and justly been the pride of Minneapolis, had exploded and was destroyed … It was a night of horror in Minneapolis.”
The 130 volunteers of the fire department dispatched every man, rig and horse they had, and quickly found an explanation to the three great crashes which had reverberated across the city. The exploding Washburn “A” mill had set off identical if smaller explosions in the adjacent Diamond and Humbolt mills. The horse drawn steam pumps of the fire department ran for ten hours, pumping over six million gallons of Mississippi River water onto the smoldering wreckage of six flour mills, a cooper shop, a lumber yard, a grain elevator, a machine shop, a blacksmith shop, a planing mill and dozens of railroad cars. The entire fourteen man night shift at the Washburn “A” mill was killed, as well as four men at adjacent mills. Said the Tribune the next day, “Minneapolis has met with a calamity, the suddenness and horror of which it is difficult for the mind to comprehend.”
C.C. arrived by train the next day, and immediately announced he would rebuild. That calmed the bankers and citizens in a city which had just had the majority of its industrial base blown sky high. But massive explosions still had to be explained. Those who favored conspiracies suggested a railroad car loaded with nitroglycerin had been parked next to the Washburn “A” mill, but that was quickly dismissed because even that much nitro would not have produced a blast that big.  A Mill owner from Indiana suggested the spinning turbines had spun so fast they had separated the hydrogen from the oxygen in the water, leading to a hydrogen buildup in the mill. But George Christian, respected operator of both Washburn mills, scoffed at the idea. The cause, he explained, was simple flour dust.
The flour dust did not explode, Christian explained, it just burned very, very quickly. And Professors Peckman and Peck, from the University of Minnesota confirmed this, by experiment. They also suggested the initial spark had come during the night shift's clean up. It was likely a worker was running two millstones in the basement without flour between them, as a shortcut to remove any residue. And like most shortcuts, this one eventually blew up in their faces. Stone sparking against stone had ignited the flour dust raised by the cleaning crew. That is what killed eighteen men.
C.C. made sure his workers were kept on the payroll, by finding them jobs in the old “B” mill. And he did rebuild. But he did not do so by himself. He brought in new money, John Crosby, and as a silent partner he added the technocrat William Dunwoody, who went to Europe as an industrial spy, and stole the best new ideas for milling, like getting rid of the horizontal grindings stones and using steel rollers instead. They gave off fewer sparks, lasted far longer, and by operating in sequence would allow the grain to be ground continuously. The bigger new “A” mill opened in 1879, under the name “Washburn Crosby “A” Mill”. With new dust scrubbers cleaning the air, it would run safely until 1965. under the company's new name, General Mills.  And what is left of that  building is today the “Mill City Museum.”
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