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Locks and Dams

Mississippi River towTo achieve a 9-foot channel in the Upper Mississippi River, the construction of a system of navigation locks and dams was authorized in 1930. Dams are built on rivers to hold back water and form deeper navigation "pools." Most pools in the United States are maintained at a constant minimum water depth of 9 feet for safe navigation. Dams allow river vessels to use a series of locks to "step" up or down the river from one water level to another.

The Corps operates the locks and dams on the Mississippi River for navigation, not flood control. The locks and dams create slack-water pools for navigation during periods of low- and moderate-level water. For each pool, there is a primary control point, where a predetermined water elevation must be kept for navigation to continue.

The St. Paul District operates and maintains 13 locks and dams beginning at Upper St. Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis and ending at Lock and Dam 10 in Guttenberg, Iowa.

For recreational craft to pass through a lock and dam, there is a specific locking procedure. It's a fun and unique experience. Interpretive materials and brochures are available at all locks.

Navigation News


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First tow of 2018 reaches St. Paul, Minnesota, opening Upper Mississippi River navigation season

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Motor Vessel Michael Poindexter, pushing 12 barges en route to St. Paul, locked through Lock and Dam 2, near Hastings, today around 1:30 p.m. [Read More]
Published: Apr-11-18

Comments sought on plan to unload dredged material from Corps Island

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, is seeking public comments on plans to unload 500,000 cubic yards of dredged material from Corps Island, near river mile 799 of the Upper Mississippi River. [Read More]
Published: Apr-06-18

Corps continues dredged material planning efforts, plans summer release of next draft

ST. PAUL, Minn. –The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, continues its efforts to develop a draft dredged material management plan for the Mississippi River’s Lower Pool 4, near Wabasha, Minnesota, and regrets that it will not meet its self-imposed deadline of Dec. 15 to release an updated draft plan. [Read More]
Published: Dec-15-17
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St. Paul District Locks & Dams

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