3M & Saint Paul

Tour curated by: Saint Paul Port Authority | Marjorie Pearson, Summit Envirosolutions, Inc. | the East Side Arts Council

Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, as 3M was originally named, moved from Two Harbors, MN, to the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood in St. Paul in 1910 and was headquartered there until 1962. The company started with sandpaper and abrasives, and eventually became a major international corporation making a wide variety of products. 3M closed all operations at it's Dayton's Bluff location in 2009. The on-site interpretive program and and this online resource were developed with funding from the Saint Paul Port Authority to help tell that story, and as partial mitigation for the demolition of historic buildings on the campus.

3M Interpretive Program will be expanded to include information in Spanish, Hmong and Somali - Summer 2017.

Locations for Tour

1910-19623M was located on Saint Paul’s East Side for almost 100 years and the company was headquartered here until 1962. Visit the site of 3M’s historic campus at 900 Bush Avenue and you will encounter a series of illustrated panels that recall…

From One Product to Thousands 3M had its beginnings in 1902 at one small location in northern Minnesota. 3M's Saint Paul headquarters grew to become the heart of a major corporation between 1910 and 1962. Founded in 1902, Minnesota Mining and…

Early Years in Saint Paul When the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company relocated from Duluth to Saint Paul in 1910, all of the company offices and manufacturing operations were housed in one small building on Forest Street by the railroad…

Industrial & Commercial Products Salesmen were the first marketers of 3M sandpapers and “Three-M-ite” abrasive cloth. Following the lead of William L. McKnight and Archibald G. Bush, they went to furniture and automobile factory floors to…

Industry and Business 3M’s location by the railroad tracks was bounded on the west and south by the commercial streets of Arcade and East Seventh. It was centered within a thriving urban community that mixed industry with the residential…

In the Beginning an Idea The growth of 3M from its modest beginnings in 1902 to an international corporation was due to vision and persistence. The four company founders had a vision of mining corundum to use as an abrasive mineral, then shifted to…

3M INNOVATIONS IN ADHESIVES PRODUCTS Adhesives: The Tape Story Pressure-sensitive tapes are coated adhesives applied to a flexible backing. The company utilized its expertise in coatings and backings to create the first 3M products that shifted away…

3M INNOVATIONS IN ABRASIVES PRODUCTS Abrasives: The Sandpaper Story 3M began manufacturing a single product, abrasive sandpaper, in 1905 at a plant in Duluth. Sandpaper was still the only product when the company relocated to Saint Paul in 1910. The…

Machines and Tools: An Important Part of the Production Process In 1928, 3M established its first machine shop in the basement of Building 2. The three machinists and eleven millwrights repaired machines and production units in the abrasives and…

“Thermo-Fax”  “It all started with writer’s cramp.” When Dr. Carl S. Miller was doing research and taking hand-written notes for his doctorate in physical chemistry at the University of Minnesota, he thought there must be some rapid,…

The People of 3M In July 1941, 3M had 3,133 employees spread among 4 plants and 13 branches and warehouses. There were 1,639 employees in the Saint Paul factory, 372 in the Saint Paul office, and 143 in the Saint Paul research labs. At the end of the…

3M Tapes Many 3M products were put to new uses and others were developed as part of the war effort. Over 100 different types of “Scotch” tapes were developed and manufactured to assist war production. They were used for sealing, identifying…

3M Engages the Community “By contributing to, and participating in civic projects, 3M and 3M employees have helped to strengthen the bond of community relationship. The unique characteristic of 3M's contribution to the many communities of which it…

Women at Work Women have worked at 3M since its early years and have played ever more varied and diversified roles. In 1916, the year the company made its first profits and began to pay dividends on its stock, there were only a handful of female…

“I Want to Work at 3M” Many early 3M employees, including William L. McKnight and Archibald G. Bush, had “business” training or high school training in “mechanic arts.” When William Viervering was hired in 1916 to help insure quality…

Working for Job Betterment The majority of employees in the Saint Paul Plant worked in the factories and received hourly pay. The company sought to offer competitive wages and working conditions comparable to other companies and factories in the…

Setting the Cornerstone, Building 21 President William L. McKnight, accompanied by chief engineer E. M. Johnson, supervised the installation of the cornerstone in October 1939. The mason worked for the William Murphy and Son Construction Company. The…

3M stands for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. Except for limited efforts to extract low-grade corundum from Crystal Bay, Minnesota, for abrasives in 1904, the company has done no mining. Nonetheless, the original name remains, even…

Meet a 3Mer and you will often find that he or she has family members who also work at 3M, part of a long 3M tradition. Otto Meissner was a prime example. Living at 668 Greenbrier, he did not have far to go when he started work in the abrasives…

“Scotch” as a brand name for 3M tapes is believed to have its origins in a disgruntled auto-body painter who was using the new 3M masking tape. It was not sticking properly because it was not entirely coated with adhesive backing. He told a…

On May 5, 1943, Brig. Gen. Carl R. Gray, Jr., head of U.S. Army railroad operations in North Africa, sent a request to President William L. McKnight: "[Please send] your Scotch Cellulose Tape, 3/4 x 2592 inches, Transparent, 3-inch core, which comes…

It was -12 degrees F. at 8:20 A.M. on February 8, 1951, when an explosion rocked the six-story Minerals Building (Building 12). It destroyed two floors, plunging them into darkness, damaged the adjacent tape packing plant, sent smoke through the…

3M constantly improved its machinery and technology to develop, produce, and sell its products. Nonetheless, it was dependent on its people to get the job done. Some of these jobs no longer exist or have been completely automated. Mineral Department…

The 66-foot tall steel flagpole was installed at the corner of Bush and Mendota by the administration building (Building 21) in September 1941. On October 4, 1941, the 3M Club sponsored a flag-raising ceremony. The flag had flown over the U.S.…

Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing initially raised capital by selling stock at $1 per share in 1903. In the early years, it was essentially worthless as the company struggled. 3M paid its first quarterly dividend of 6 cents per share in 1916 and has…

Stormwater facilities at the Saint Paul Port Authority’s Beacon Bluff Business Center treat rainwater as a resource that is used to recharge groundwater, irrigate landscaping, as well as enhance and protect our natural environment.  Approaches to…

Stormwater Treatment Managing stormwater runoff is important to urban planning and environmental conservation. The site of Beacon Bluff drains an area of approximately 163 acres of stormwater that flows into the Phalen Creek tunnel and ultimately the…

Bubblicious 2014 Material: steel, aluminum, solar lighting This sundial-inspired artwork evokes the visual imagery of creatures whose bodies are comprised of 90% or more water - jellies, rays, and mushrooms. A project of the East Side Arts Council…

The Scope 2015 Material: Corten steel, mirrored stainless steel, 3M dichroic glass, copper-coated rods, 3M-salvaged brick, taconite, quartzite, rubber porous paving, granite Bench 2015 Material: 3M-salvaged stainless steel stair railings A project of…