The end of an era was witnessed when the last boat, a recreation boater, locked through Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam in Minneapolis June 9 at 11:17 p.m.
The final commercial tow to lock through the facility was Upper River Services’ Motor Vessel Becky Sue, locking through at 2:45 p.m. June 9. She was pushing two partially loaded barges of scrap metal loaded at Northern Metals Recycling.
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, signed June 10, 2014, directed the Corps of Engineers to close Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock to navigation within one year of the act being signed into law. The action ended use of the lock by commercial, recreation and other navigational uses. This will end the ability to ship cargo, such as gravel and scrap metal to and from barge terminals above Upper St. Anthony Falls Dam. Cargo that would otherwise be moved by barge during the normal shipping season now will be moved by truck or other transportation means.
While the lock remains closed to commercial navigation and recreation boaters, the visitor center remains open, Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The center provides visitors with views of the falls, the Stone Arch Bridge and a historical perspective of the St. Anthony Falls. The district is exploring ways the visitor center can continue to serve the region.
“We are too valuable of a location, it’s too much of a resource for people who live in this community to just let it sit here and do nothing,” said Col. Dan Koprowski, St. Paul District commander. “Whatever it is, I hope we can work with other stakeholders and concerned parties to find a way to make use of this facility.”
In 1937, Congress authorized the Minneapolis Upper Harbor Project which extended the Upper Mississippi River 9-Foot Navigation Project an additional 4.6 miles by constructing two locks to lift vessels over St. Anthony Falls. The Lower St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam was completed in 1956 and the upper lock in 1963.