Meeker Island Lock and Dam Historic Park
St. Paul Parks and Recreation
The geologic retreat of St. Anthony Falls northward created a nearly insurmountable navigation barrier north of St. Paul. Here the river ran through a rock-strewn, island-dotted gorge, now known as the Mississippi River Gorge. St. Paul, laying at the foot of the rapids, became the “head of navigation” for the Mississippi River and an important port for goods arriving or leaving the area. A dam built at Meeker Island would inundate the rock-strewn rapids below St. Anthony Falls permitting steamboats to reach Minneapolis, but also reduce St. Paul’s importance as a port.
Engineers built the Meeker Island Lock and Dam (formerly known as Lock and Dam 2) in 1907 and had nearly completed the Lock and Dam 1 downstream when Congress agreed to replace these two low dams with a single high dam capable of generating hydroelectric power at the location of the Lock and Dam 1. The resulting pool not only inundated the dangerous rapids but also the Meeker Lock and Dam, forcing its abandonment only five years after its completion. Engineers removed the upper five feet of the dam to further reduce its threat to navigation.
Parts of the lock system may still be seen on the east side of the river during low water.
The park lies on the border of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
In 2003, the ruins of the Meeker Island Lock and Dam were included on the National Register of Historic Places.
Activities: Views of the river and the ruins of the Meeker Island dam and lock system can be had from the trail that winds through the park. Picnic tables and benches are also available.
Contact Information: Contact the St. Paul Parks and Recreation for more information at 651-632-5111.
Sites Nearby: Mississippi Gorge Regional Park
Did You Know?
At Lake Onalaska, near LaCrosse WI, the Mississippi River is about 4 miles wide. The combination of water held behind Lock and Dam #7 and water held by damming the Black River form this broad reach of the Mississippi River.