Mill Tailraces

Flooded drain-type tunnels underneath the Twin Cities milling districts. These tunnels were the outfalls from mill waterwheels, which took water from the Mississippi River to power their systems in the days before electricity. Today most of the tailraces are sealed up, gated off, or full of raging water, but a few are still accessible.

A walkway atop the central water channel in one of the tailraces. Side tunnels led off to other flooded tailraces. The ceiling was about 7 feet up, water was about 5 or 6 feet down, and of an unknown depth (more than 5 feet).

At the end of a tailrace, up inside the guts of a mill. This particular mill has been refurbished above, leaving a sealed crawlspace with an original floor, new ceiling, and lots of odd machinery and junk trapped in between. There are also a lot of rats, the only (live) ones I saw in or under the Twin Cities. The last photo poorly illustrates the really dodgy shaft down from the mill basement into the tailraces, a several floor drop through rusty gears, pipes, cables, and other random machinery. If you look closely you might make out some stairs way down there.

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