Project Phases


The National Park Service is in the process of restoring Coldwater Unit, formerly known as the Bureau of Mines. This is a 3 phase project that involves the demolition of the existing buildings, removing pavement and parking lots, daylighting Coldwater Creek, stabilizing the reservoir and springhouse, and fully restoring the site to an open space, prairie/oak savanna condition. While it will likely take many years for all 3 phases to be fully realized, Phase I construction has begun.

Phase 1: Demolition and Initial Restoration
Twelve abandoned buildings and related infrastructure from the Bureau of Mines research center era will be removed and the site restored to an open space/park resembling an oak savanna/prairie ecological condition. The spring, springhouse and reservoir will remain intact. Future planning will determine how it is maintained and in what condition. The reservoir outlet is Coldwater Creek, a portion of which runs through a culvert under a roadway adjacent to the reservoir. The creek will be daylighted. Small remnants of Building 1 - the main office building for the Bureau of Mines, two ore bins, and the entry gateway/monument will be left as future interpretative elements of the Bureau of Mines era. The existing parking lot at Building 1 will remain and a handicap accessible trail to the spring and reservoir will be constructed. An existing roadway on the western edge of the site will be narrowed and used as a service roadway. All other buildings, roadways and parking lots will be removed.

Current Project Schedule

November 1, 2011
Site is closed to public use. Construction begins

November - December 2011
Hazardous material removal and abatement from the buildings.

Mid-December - Mid-March
Building removal

Mid-March - August
Creek daylighting, parking lot and roadway removal, site grading, planting.

August 31, 2012
Construction completion date.

Future Activity

Phase 2: Springhouse and Reservoir Restoration
How to manage and maintain the Coldwater springhouse and reservoir will need to be determined. Severe deterioration and erosion has already occurred, threatening the structures integrity. Possible courses of action to be considered include: allowing the deterioration to continue and maintain the site as a ruins; undertake a partial restoration and stabilization of the walls and springhouse; or reconstruct the springhouse and reservoir to resemble the site's condition during the Fort Snelling waterworks era of the 1880s. Funding for this phase of work has been requested through the National Park Service's repair and restoration program. However, it is not known when funds will be made available.

Phase 3: Full Landscape Restoration
Phase 3 continues the landscape restoration initiated in Phase 1. The result will be a fully restored the landscape across the entire site into a prairie/oak savanna. Additional trails on-site as well as connections to existing trails adjacent to the site will also be considered. Interpretation of the site's unique characteristics and cultural importance will need to be planned and eventually implemented. Partnerships with other agencies, groups and organizations as well as help from volunteers will be actively sought. There currently is no timeframe for the completion of this phase and it likely will take many years.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101


(651) 293-0200
This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center. Please leave a voicemail if we miss your call and expect a return call within 1 day, often sooner.

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