Locks and Dams

St. Paul Engineer District Dewaters St. Anthony Falls Locks

The Corps of Engineers decided in 2015 to permanently close down the upper and lower locks at the St. Anthony Falls, on the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis, ending commercial navigation above that point. The lower lock was built in 1956, and the upper lock was completed in 1963. The dam remains operational, providing the city’s drinking water and also supporting hydropower operations of Xcel Energy, but the locks will no longer be used.

The cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul and Xcel Energy are the two main potential buyers of the property.

Before the St. Paul Engineer District can divest itself of the property, though, it must know what to tell potential buyers about what they’re getting. That’s what led to last week’s dewatering of the locks for an inspection. The Corps has conducted inspections every five to 10 years, but not always with a dewatering. The last time river levels were lowered for an inspection was 2008. River levels were lowered about 12 feet. The exposure of the lock structure drew crowds of sightseers to downtown Minneapolis.

Corps spokesperson Nan Bischoff told local media the drawdown reached its target levels October 6. The site remained open to the public through October 8. After the inspection, water levels were allowed to return to normal.