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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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National Park Service offers tours at Upper St. Anthony Falls lock

The National Park Service will provide tours again this summer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam starting Saturday, May 26, and going through Labor Day weekend. [Read More]
Published: May-24-18

Corps seeks comments on Lock and Dam 7 weir construction

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, is seeking public comments on plans to construct a weir upstream from the auxiliary chamber at Lock and Dam 7, near La Crosse, Wisconsin. [Read More]
Published: May-23-18

Corps of Engineers reopens two Minneapolis locks to recreational traffic

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, reopened its locks at Lower St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam and Lock and Dam 1, both in Minneapolis, today to recreational traffic. [Read More]
Published: May-03-18
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St. Paul District Locks & Dams

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