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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 marks unofficial opening to navigation season

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The 2015 Mississippi River navigation season has arrived. The Motor Vessel New Dawn locked through Lock and Dam 2, near Hastings, Minnesota, at 7:45 a.m. this morning. She was pushing nine loaded barges en route to St. Paul, Minnesota. [Read More]
Published: Mar-25-15

Lock and Dam 5A to reopen by March 23

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, will reopen Lock and Dam 5A, near Fountain City, Wisconsin, no later than March 23. The facility was originally scheduled to reopen today, March 9, but thick ice conditions indicate that navigation will not begin on the Upper Mississippi River until later than originally anticipated. Work crews are set to complete scheduled maintenance within the new timeframe. [Read More]
Published: Mar-09-15

Corps to reopen the Upper St. Anthony Falls lock for short period

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, will reopen its Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam, located in Minneapolis, to navigation prior to the June 10 mandated closure. [Read More]
Published: Feb-25-15
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St. Paul District Locks & Dams

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