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Winner of the 2011 Minnesota History Award

Prairie Lightning
The Rise and Fall of William Drew Washburn

Kerck Kelsey

In every way, William Drew Washburn was larger than life. Although born one of ten children on a remote, hardscrabble farm in western Maine, fifty years later he was entertaining Presidents in his eighty-room mansion in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


A leading entrepreneur and politician of early Minneapolis, Washburn was deeply involved in most of the key developments of the early city. This included the development of the Minneapolis Mill Co., early lumber and flour milling at both Minneapolis and Anoka, trolley cars, newspapers, electricity, railroads and coal mining, among other things.

Also covered are Washburn's life at home, his six successful children, many major civic projects he instigated, the births of the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad, the Soo Line Railroad, and the wreck of the Pillsbury-Washburn Flour Co. Ltd.Weaving together occasional stormy relationships with brother C.C. Washburn, James J. Hill, politicians Ignatius Donnelly and Knute Nelson, and three generations of Pillsburys, Prairie Lightning truly captures Washburn's colorful history. 50+ photos and maps

About the Author
Kerck Kelsey, is a Washburn descendant and has chronicled the Washburn family for the past nineteen years. He is an historian and a story-teller delivering lectures on the Washburns across Maine and in Illinois, New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, on the steamer Delta Queen; and the cruise ship Sea Lion. Kelsey's previous books include Israel Washburn, Jr. Maine's Little Known Giant of the Civil War and Remarkable Americans: The Washburn Family.

200 pages, Paperback, B&W, 6" x 9", © 2010
Order Number: PP460............$18.95 $14.25

Other Interesting Links:
Washburn-Norland Living History Center
Minnesota Historical Center - Mill City Museum
Washburn Center for Children

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