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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Minneapolis in Hennepin County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Big Water / Stairway of Water

 
 
Big Water / Stairway of Water Marker image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, April 28, 2011
1. Big Water / Stairway of Water Marker
Close-up of Big Water Text
[map caption] The Mississippi River
Inscription.
Big Water
The Mississippi River, paramount among North American rivers, along with its tributaries, forms the world's fifth largest drainage system in area – 1,244,000 square miles. The Indians called this river "Father of Waters", literally Misi 'big' and Sipi 'water'. The river has three distinct personalities. At its source, Lake Itasca, to the head of navigation here in the Twin Cities, the river is a clear running fresh stream. From the Twin Cities to the mouth of the Missouri at St. Louis, the river is a powerful, dominant force, moving past stone bluffs gathering streams and small rivers along the way. At the Missouri, the Mississippi changes to a turbulent force. And, at the junction of the Ohio River, the Mississippi swells to its full grandeur.

The river was a pathway through the wilderness for the native Americans, explorers, fur traders, and settlers, Indian villages, settlements, towns and eventually cities grew up along the shores of the river. The river was food, water, livelihood and supplies for the people along its shores. Downstream trips were dangerous but possible when the water in the river was good. But upstream travel remained a journey that only the strong and brave dared to make. Men had to be half-horse half-alligator to make the trip upstream.

The invention
Big Water / Stairway of Water Marker image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, April 28, 2011
2. Big Water / Stairway of Water Marker
Close-up of Stairway of Water Text
[chart caption] Stairway of water makes navagation possible between Minneapolis, MN and the Gulf of Mexico.
of the steamship and the further refinement of a ship designed to ply the Mississippi River made more of the river navigable more of the time. As travel and commerce increased along the river, the demand for navigation improvements was answered by Congress. With the General Survey of 1824, the army engineers were authorized to make these improvements, culminating in the 9-Foot Channel and the Locks and Dams system of today on the Upper Mississippi River.

Stairway of Water
A free flowing river offers many obstacles to travel, low flow, rapids, waterfalls, boulders and snags. A major characteristic of a river is its slope. The change in elevation from head waters to mouth of a river, coupled with the amount of water flowing and the landscape through which it flows, make a river. The slope of the Mississippi River from St. Louis and on down to the Gulf of Mexico, with the additional waters of the Missouri and Ohio Rivers, required channelization and levies to improve navigation. However, the Upper Mississippi River was too steep with insufficient year-round flow for this solution. The proposal of slackwater pools created by the locks and dams offered an answer for this portion of the river.

The locks and dams like the one you see here work together. The dam holds back water creating the pools and the locks act as an escalator or stairway
Big Water / Stairway of Water Marker image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, April 28, 2011
3. Big Water / Stairway of Water Marker
moving the vessels up or down to the next pool.

The digging or dredging of a 9-foot channel was necessary and the series of 29 locks and dams have allowed the Twin Cities to become the head of navigation. Minneapolis and St. Paul are now major trading ports accessible to barges from as far away as New Orleans, carrying products from around the world. Lock & Dam No. 1 is conveniently located between the bread basket to the west and industry to the east.
 
Erected by US Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District.
 
Location. 44° 54.895′ N, 93° 12.172′ W. Marker is in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in Hennepin County. Marker can be reached from Godfrey Road 0.2 miles east of 46th Avenue South. Touch for map. Marker is at Lock and Dam No. 1. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5000 West River Parkway, Minneapolis MN 55417, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Wing Dams (within shouting distance of this marker); The Lock and Dam No. 1 Story (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Hydro Electric Turbine (approx. 0.2 miles away); 3 – Master Map (approx. 0.3 miles away); 1–Main Entrance Minnehaha Lower Glen
Big Water / Stairway of Water Marker image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, April 28, 2011
4. Big Water / Stairway of Water Marker
[background] A towboat with barge is being raised in a lock.
(approx. 0.3 miles away); Geology of Minnesota (approx. 0.3 miles away); Gunnar Wennerberg (approx. 0.3 miles away); John Harrington Stevens House (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Minneapolis.
 
Also see . . .
1. Nokomis East Area. Mississippi River Lock and Dam #1 (the "Ford Dam"). (Submitted on December 1, 2011.) 

2. US Army Corps of Engineers. Lock and Dam 1. (Submitted on December 1, 2011.) 

3. Intercity Bridge. Wikipedia entry. (Submitted on December 1, 2011.) 
 
Additional keywords. Ford Dam
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceMan-Made FeaturesNative AmericansWaterways & Vessels
 
Lock and Dam No. 1 image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, April 28, 2011
5. Lock and Dam No. 1
Mississippi River
Dual Locks image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, April 28, 2011
6. Dual Locks
Lock and Dam No. 1
The marker is beyond the bulding at the left.
Overflow Dam image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, April 28, 2011
7. Overflow Dam
Lock and Dam No. 1
[background] Ford Parkway Bridge
Ford Parkway Bridge image. Click for full size.
By K. Linzmeier, April 28, 2011
8. Ford Parkway Bridge
(Intercity Bridge / 46th Street Bridge)
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 28, 2017. This page originally submitted on December 1, 2011, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 484 times since then and 63 times this year. Last updated on August 11, 2017, by McGhiever of St Paul, Minnesota. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on December 1, 2011, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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