SIA 2024 Conference - Twin Cities, Minnesota

SIA 2024 Conference – Twin Cities, Minnesota

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Society for Industrial Archeology
52nd Annual Conference
May 15-19, 2024
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Join the Society for Industrial Archeology for a conference at Minneapolis, once the greatest flour-milling center in the world.  The SIA met in Minneapolis’ twin city, Saint Paul, in 2013.  This time, we will focus on the larger of the two cities (although some tour sites will be in Saint Paul).  Saint Paul was, and still is, the head of navigation on the Mississippi River.  Developed adjacent to St. Anthony Falls, Minneapolis sits on land that had been occupied and stewarded by the Dakota (Sioux) people for at least 1,000 years.  After agricultural settlement began in the Upper Mississippi region in the mid-19th century, Minneapolis grew as a water-powered manufacturing city centered on milling flour and lumber.  Railroads followed, as did immigrants from throughout Europe.  Minneapolis and Saint Paul continue to welcome immigrants from throughout the world and have sizeable Somali and Hmong populations, among other ethnicities.

The Mississippi River’s St. Anthony Falls provided the reason for Minneapolis to rise as a water-powered grain-milling center in the mid-19th century.  The falls made Saint Paul, the Twin City to the east, the head of navigation on the Mississippi River.  Together the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul attracted railroads and grew into the economic metropole for the United States’ expansion onto the north Great Plains and into the northern Rocky Mountains.  Milling is no longer the heart of the Minneapolis economy, but railroads still are, and the economy of Minneapolis has diversified into other areas, which will be themes explored by the SIA tours on Thursday and Friday of the conference.

Minneapolis still hosts important manufacturing operations, and St. Anthony Falls is still a vibrant heart of the city.  In the second half of the 20th century, Minneapolis was one of the most important centers for computing in the U.S., featuring such enterprises as Honeywell, Cray supercomputers, and Control Data.  As that industry faded in importance, the medical-device industry has taken its place, especially in Minneapolis’ suburbs.  The Mississippi River and many lakes foster a wonderful array of parks in Minneapolis, and the city supports a thriving arts scene, especially for theater and music.



  • Opening program, Brian McMahon, “Concrete and the Building of Minneapolis & Saint Paul”
  • Minneapolis Central Library


  • Pre-conference tours*
  • Welcome Reception for New Members
  • Evening Reception at Conference Hotel


  • Choose one of three all-day bus tours
  • SIA Banquet*


  • Full day of research presentations & exhibits
  • Annual Business Meeting & Luncheon
  • Dinner on your own


  • Post-conference tours*

*Additional fees apply


Royal Sonesta Hotel Downtown Minneapolis
35 So. 7th St.
Minneapolis, MN  55402

Please see bottom of page for details about extended call for papers.

Caption for photo at top: General view of Pillsbury ‘A’ Mill complex along Main Street, looking northeast, Minneapolis, MN

Some sites of IA interest in Minneapolis

Mill City Museum.  Interpreting the history of the flour-milling industry in Minneapolis, the museum was developed by the Minnesota Historical Society adjacent to the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, which was destroyed by fire in 1991 (SIAN 20 Spring 1991).  The Guthrie Theater, built in 2006 and designed by Jean Nouvel, is on the left.  Its giant cantilevered “endless bridge” offers a stunning view of the Mississippi River.

Northrup King Building.  This giant warehouse, once owned by the seed company, Northrup King, now houses more than 300 artists’ studios and is at the heart of renaissance of northeast Minneapolis as a cultural center in the Twin Cities.  The building, which will be included on one of the SIA tours, features the reinforced-concrete structural system of C.A.P. Turner.

 St. Anthony Falls Dam.  The dam covers the actual falls and prevents it from receding further upstream.  The lock for the lock-and-dam complex is just off to the left.  No longer operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lock-and-dam complex is now interpreted by the National Park Service.  The open-spandrel concrete-arch 3rd Avenue South Bridge, designed by Frederick Cappelen and completed in 1918, is in the background.

Stone Arch Bridge.  Built in 1883 for James J. Hill’s Great Northern Railway, the bridge crosses the Mississippi River at St. Anthony Falls.  In the background left is the stone Pillsbury A Mill, built in 1881.  To the right are other structures of the Pillsbury milling complex.  Both the Stone Arch Bridge and the Pillsbury A Mill are National Historic Landmarks.

Call for Papers (PDF Download)

Link to Online Abstract Submission Form

SIA 52nd Annual Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Society for Industrial Archeology invites proposals for presentations and poster displays at the 52nd Annual Conference in Minneapolis, May 16–19, 2024. The presentation sessions will be held at the conference hotel, the Royal Sonesta in Downtown Minneapolis, on Sat., May 18, 2024.
We invite presentations on all topics related to industrial archeology, industrial heritage, history of technology, social change related to industry, and historic industrial structures and bridges. Papers about regional industries and transportation in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are particularly encouraged. We also encourage presentations on challenges facing industrial heritage and the contributions made to our field by industrial museums. Poster displays are also encouraged and may present works in progress or finished projects. All presentations and poster displays should offer both interpretation and synthesis of data.

The new deadline for proposals is February 28, 2024.

Presentation Formats: Proposals may be for individual presentations 20 min. in length, a group of three or four presentations on a common theme filling a 90-min. session, a 90-min. panel discussion with 2–5 discussants (a formal moderator is encouraged though optional), or a poster presentation. SIA will provide laptop computers, data projectors, screens, microphones with speakers as needed in each presentation room. Posters will be on display all day Saturday with a dedicated time in the afternoon for poster presenters to be present for discussion.

Proposal Formats: Proposals should be submitted online unless special arrangements have been made.

For 90-min. themed sessions or panel discussions, the organizer should submit a session title and a brief description of the theme, along with all above information, together as a group, as prompted on the online submission form. If any of these items is missing, the proposal cannot be considered. Note that the above word counts apply separately to each presenter in a group. All speakers are expected to pay the registration fee (for either the full conference or one-day rate).

Each proposal must include:

• The presentation title (you will indicate the type of presentation—single paper, session proposal, or poster—on the submission form)
• A 300-word abstract that outlines the scope, findings, and conclusions of the presentation
• Contact information, including name, affiliation (if appropriate), email address, mailing address, and telephone number for each presenter
• A brief biographical statement of 150 words for each presenter
• The software (incl. version) used to create your presentation and any additional audio-visual requests beyond the standard equipment listed above

For questions please contact Martin Johnston, University of St. Thomas, SIA Presentations Committee Chair,