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Iowa History Daily: October 5 - Mill Fire Along the Cedar

Iowa History Daily: On October 5, 1887, a massive fire ripped through the North Star Mills plant in Cedar Rapids. The forerunner to the modern-day Quaker Oats plant located along I-380, the fire happened a year before the seven largest national oat millers united to form the American Cereal Company.

Starting in 1873, three Cedar Rapids families came together to form an oat milling operation in Linn County called North Star Mill. As the business continued to grow, the plant pushed capacity until a fire consumed the structure in 1887. The next year, the families agreed to consolidate with the other large national oat milling interests to form the American Cereal Company.

An explosion in March of 1905 again challenged the business, leaving much of the mill in ruins once again. When the company rebuilt, they also rebranded to become The Quaker Oats Company.

After the two previous disasters, the company rebuilt the plant on the bank of the Cedar River adjacent to the downtown area of Cedar Rapids. In 1947, the company erected a large ‘neon’ sign atop the main building. The complex features a 190’, 13 floor section, representing the fourth-tallest building in Cedar Rapids. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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