Lock and Dam No. 1

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Lock and Dam No. 1 (Ford Dam)
Ford lock and dam.jpg
Ford Lock and Dam
Lock and Dam No. 1 is located in Minnesota
Lock and Dam No. 1
Location of Lock and Dam No. 1 (Ford Dam) in Minnesota
LocationMinneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States.
Coordinates44°54′55″N 93°12′2″W / 44.91528°N 93.20056°W / 44.91528; -93.20056Coordinates: 44°54′55″N 93°12′2″W / 44.91528°N 93.20056°W / 44.91528; -93.20056
Opening dateLocks completed in 1932; 87 years ago (1932)
Operator(s)United States Army Corps of Engineers logo.svg U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Dam and spillways
ImpoundsUpper Mississippi River
Length574 feet (175.0 m)
CreatesPool 1
Total capacity9,300 acre⋅ft (11,500,000 m3)
Catchment area19,400 sq mi (50,000 km2)

Ford Dam, officially known as Lock and Dam No. 1, is on the Upper Mississippi River and is located between Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota just north of the confluence of the Mississippi with the Minnesota River at Mississippi River mile 847.9, in Minneapolis. The dam portion was previously owned by the Ford Motor Company, which operated a hydroelectric power station to feed electricity to its Twin Cities Assembly Plant on the east side of the river, it was sold to Brookfield Power Co. in April 2008. The dual-lock facility is operated by the St. Paul district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Mississippi Valley Division.[1][2][3]

lock and dam 1 tonnage


The first facility at the site went into operation in 1917 and superseded the role of the earlier Lock and Dam No. 2 (today known as the Meeker Island Lock and Dam). The facility was rebuilt in 1929, and an expansion from one lock to two locks was completed in 1932; each lock is 56 feet (17 m) wide by 400 feet (120 m) long (17 × 122 meters), half the width of the next lock downstream, though this is the only dual-lock facility in the district. Major rehabilitation efforts were carried out between 1978 and 1983, including the replacement of many manual and hydraulic components with computer controls.

The eastern portion of the site consists of an overflow Ambursen dam, which is a buttress dam where the upstream part is a relatively thin flat slab usually made of reinforced concrete. There is an inflatable section on top of the dam that can slightly increase its size when so desired; the lock side of the facility has a large observation area that is open from April to November each year. A bridge allows visitors to walk over the two locks and right up next to the dam.

When the facility opened, it assured a navigable channel up to the tail end of Saint Anthony Falls upriver in Minneapolis. Additional locks were added there in the 1960s, extending the head of navigation to a dam in Coon Rapids (without any lock), until their closure in 2015.

Just upstream of the dam is the Ford Parkway Bridge.

Ford Lock and Dam

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Recreation.gov document "Mississippi River - Pool 1".

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army.

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress.

Further reading[edit]

  • McMahon, Brian. "Minneapolis and St. Paul Stumble- Henry Ford Wins the Struggle for the High Dam". Ramsey County History Quarterly vol. 42 no. 2 (Summer 2007).

External links[edit]

Locks and dams of the Upper Mississippi River
Meeker Island Lock and Dam (former Lock and Dam No. 2, demolished)
Lock and Dam No. 2