The Decline of Flour Milling in Minnesota, 1900 to 1930

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Economics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Louis Johnston, Economics


My research looks to Minnesota's economic history to hopefully reveal why Minnesota's economy is how it is today. We hope to be the first step to extensive research on flour milling in the US in the early 20th century. We look to answer why the flour milling industry in Minnesota, the largest in the world in 1910, declined in the 1920s. We primarily turned to the United States Census and the Year of Agriculture to find the supporting data. This research utilizes the geographic concentration model found in Paul Krugman's book, Geography and Trade, to show that the flour milling industry in Minnesota declined because it did not retain transportation cost advantages, lacked sufficiently large economies of scale, did not have a large enough local demand for flour, and finally, Minnesota millers shifted their own production to Buffalo, NY based on future expectations.