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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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Draft Environmental Assessment available for closure of Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock to Navigational Traffic

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, is closing the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock in Minneapolis to all navigation. The action is mandated as a result of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 with the requirement that the lock be closed on or before June 10, 2015. [Read More]
Published: Dec-18-14

Corps of Engineers releases Lock and Dam 2 statistics for the 2014 navigation season

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, released the 2014 navigation statistics for the Upper Mississippi River today, Dec. 10. The 2014 navigation season was one of the shortest seasons on record. A historically late start, coupled by summer floods, finished with the earliest closure at Lock and Dam 2, in Hastings, Minnesota, since 1970. Despite the challenges, there were 2,452 lockages at the lock during the 2014 navigation season. There were 2,574 lockages during the 2013 navigation season. [Read More]
Published: Dec-10-14

Corps of Engineers releases Lock and Dam 3 statistics for the 2014 navigation season

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, released the 2014 navigation statistics for the Upper Mississippi River today, Dec. 10. The 2014 navigation season was one of the shortest seasons on record. A historically late start, coupled by summer floods, finished with the earliest closure at Lock and Dam 3, in Red Wing, Minnesota, since 1970. Despite the challenges, there were 3,775 lockages during the 2014 navigation season. There were 4,123 lockages during the 2013 navigation season. [Read More]
Published: Dec-10-14
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St. Paul District Locks & Dams

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