Upper St. Anthony Lock and Dam has little use to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which currently operates it.
It’s eight years away. At best. And there remain some sizable hurdles to clear between now and then. But that hasn’t discouraged some in the Twin Cities from imagining something previously thought improbable for downtown Minneapolis: a central role in a national park.
The dream centers on one of the most-visited pieces of land in the region, around the lock and dam at the Upper St. Anthony Falls that sits below the Stone Arch Bridge. And the idea is to create a park experience to tell the story of the Native Americans who preceded the region's white settlers as well as the industries that tapped the power of the river to build the city.
“We now have a great, sort of unanticipated, opportunity to think about plans for what’s next at that lock,” said Christine Goepfert, senior program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, a nonprofit advocacy organization that sponsored an open house last month to talk about making it a key piece of the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area.