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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District
Public Affairs Office
180 5th St. E., Suite 700
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: (651) 290-5807
Fax: (651) 290-5752
Meeker Dam: Controversy plagued one of the first locks on the Mississippi River
Listed as one of the “controversies” in Raymond Merritt’s book “Creativity, Conflict & Controversy: A History of the St. Paul District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” the Meeker Dam project continues to provide intrigue.
Gouverneur Kimble Warren
Maj. Gouverneur Kimble Warren was the first district engineer of the St. Paul District. After the Civil War, he came to St. Paul in 1866 and began work surveying the Mississippi, Chippewa, St. Croix and Wisconsin Rivers. He also began the preservation of St. Anthony Falls and designed the nation’s first reservoir system, the Mississippi River Headwaters Reservoir System.
St. Paul District regulatory boundaries
In 1976, the St. Paul District regulatory staff consisted of four people (clerk included) that focused on evaluating projects under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. The scrutiny was largely of bridges, trestles, docks/piers and dams that had the potential to impede navigation.
Expansion of the regulatory mission
The Department of the Army Regulatory Program is one of the oldest organizations within the federal government. Initially, its purpose was to protect and maintain the navigable capacity of the nation's waters. The St. Paul District’s regulatory role in protecting Minnesota’s and Wisconsin’s water resources has evolved and expanded greatly since the program began regulating commerce and navigation on the Upper Mississippi River in 1866.
History of recreation in the St. Paul District
The St. Paul District constructed and placed approximately 15 dams into operation starting with Lake Winnie, Leech Lake and Pokegama Lake dams on the Headwaters of the Mississippi River in 1884 and concluded with the Highway 75/Bigstone Dam in 1972. Except for the Headwaters dams that were constructed at the outlets of large natural lakes, the remaining dams created new reservoirs. These lakes, reservoirs and tail water areas created prime locations for outdoor recreation and visitors slowly starting utilizing the areas as railroads, road systems, vehicles and accessibility became more modern.
History of the Headwaters Recreation Areas
The Mississippi River Headwaters dams, located in north central Minnesota, were constructed and placed in operation between 1884 and 1912. Maj. General Warren, the first St. Paul District commander, noted the importance of the Mississippi River Headwaters area during field surveys in the 1860s. Less than 10 years later, Congress authorized a feasibility study to determine whether a series of dams and reservoirs could aid in stabilizing water flow in the Mississippi River between St. Paul, Minnesota, and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. As a result, a system of dams capable of raising water levels and storing annual spring runoff from six existing lake systems was designated. These structures are located at the outlets of Gull Lake, Leech Lake, Big Sandy Lake, Cross Lake, Pokegama Lake and Lake Winnibigoshish. Two of these lakes, Leech and Winnibigoshish, are located within the Leech Lake Indian Reservation.
Gull Lake Native American Burial Mounds
The Gull Lake Mounds were excavated in 1969 by the University of Minnesota. This excavation was one of the last large-scale mound excavations conducted in Minnesota. The human remains and many of the artifacts removed from these mounds were returned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, to the Dakota people for reburial in 1998.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, uses the Dredge William L. Goetz to help maintain 850 miles of the Upper Mississippi River, 335 miles of the Illinois River and other inland rivers. The St. Paul District acquired it in the spring of 2005.
Red River Flood of 2009
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, declared a victory late April 2009 after facing massive flooding in the Red River of the North river valley for more than a month-and-a-half. By the end of the fight, the district had distributed 11.3 million sandbags, 4,201 rolls of plastic and 136 pumps, as well as let 50 contracts, built approximately 70 miles of emergency levee and spent more than $32 million.
Floods of 1997
The St. Paul District faced one of its biggest challenges ever when, in the timeframe of around six weeks in 1997, it simultaneously fought floods in three river basins – the Red, the Minnesota and the Mississippi.
Engineering the Falls: The Corps of Engineers' Role at St. Anthony Falls
People have always been drawn to the power and beauty of St. Anthony Falls. For Native Americans, the falls possessed religious significance and harbored powerful spirits. For the early European and American explorers, the falls provided a landmark in a vast wilderness, as well as an interesting geological phenomenon. During the 19th century, settlers, tourists and artists were drawn to St. Anthony Falls' picturesque beauty, while entrepreneurs seized the water power of the falls for their lumber and flour mills. Meanwhile, promoters of river transportation viewed St. Anthony Falls as an obstacle to be overcome, as they dreamed of extending navigation on the Mississippi River above Minneapolis.
Mission complete: District cuts the ribbon at the Roseau, Minnesota, project
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, celebrated the completion of its Roseau, Minnesota, Flood Damage Reduction Project with a ribbon cutting ceremony in Roseau, Aug. 18.
Wilmes returns to lead recreation, natural resources section
After working in six different districts and four divisions during his 27-year career, the new St. Paul District recreation and natural resources chief has returned to where it all began.
Bostick visits the St. Paul District
The Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick made a whirlwind visit to the St. Paul District, Sept. 1-2.
Dredge W.A. Thompson and early dredging
In 1930 the 9-foot draft channel was legislated by Congress to increase commerce on the river. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of the series of 29 locks and dams between St. Louis and Minneapolis, creating a stairway of water for river traffic. Since the river is constantly shifting its load of sand and sediment and tributaries along the way contribute more it is necessary to remove the material from the bottom of the channel to prevent a closure to navigation. This process of underwater excavation is called dredging.
St. Paul District Engineers
The district is turning 150 years old in 2016. I have to admit I have never thought much about what
The Old Post Office Building and the Digitization of the St. Paul District
I started working for the St Paul District in March of 1980. At that time the district office was in the main Post Office on Kellogg Boulevard between Sibley and Jackson streets. The building was built in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration.
Hiram M. Chittenden
Captain Hiram M. Chittenden’s photograph appears on the wall outside the executive office of St. Paul District. Chittenden served as temporary district engineer for four months in 1901, during which time he gets credit for the conversion of Leech Lake Dam from a timber to a concrete structure and the design of Twin Cities Lock and Dam #2. Chittenden was assigned to St. Paul District for much of his career, more than those four brief months of command.
One of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District’s claim to fame is renowned photographer Henry Bosse. Bosse was born in Prussia Nov. 13, 1844. He immigrated to the United States in 1865; and by, 1870, he was working in a book and stationary shop in Chicago. He began working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Chicago in 1874 and was soon transferred to the Corps’ River and Harbor Improvement Office in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1878, he transferred to the Corps’ Rock Island District.
The Boatyard: History of the Fountain City Service Base
For 100 years, the Fountain City, Wisconsin, Boatyard has played an essential role in supporting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to improve navigation on the Upper Mississippi River. These efforts have included the 4 ½-foot channel project (1878-1907), the 6-foot channel project (1907-1930) and the 9-foot channel project (1930-present).