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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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Corps awards $5.3 million contract for lock and dam guidewall repairs

ST. PAUL, Minn. –The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, recently awarded a $5.3 contract to Kaiyuh Services, LLC, of Anchorage, Alaska, to make repairs to the guidewalls at Locks and Dams 4 and 5A on the Mississippi River. [Read More]
Published: Sep-17-18

Corps awards $1.2 million contract for repairs to Lock and Dam 6

ST. PAUL, Minn. –The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, awarded a $1,292,230 contract Aug. 31, to Kraemer North America, LLC, of Plain, Wisconsin, to make repairs to the Lock and Dam 6 navigation support system. [Read More]
Published: Sep-13-18

Corps of Engineers seeks land from willing land owners near Mississippi River

ST. PAUL, Minn. –The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, continues seeking land from willing landowners near the Mississippi River. [Read More]
Published: Aug-22-18
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St. Paul District Locks & Dams

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