Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam provides panoramic views of the Upper St. Anthony Lock and Dam, St. Anthony Falls, and the surrounding mill district. Exhibits at the visitor center provide information about the falls and its place in Minnesota history. Rangers lead short walks onto the lock's walls and describe how the falls changed the course of history of the area and of the nation.
CAUTION: Boaters, kayakers, and canoeists should exercise caution around the dam due to water turbulence and strong currents. There is now a portage around the dam for canoeists and kayakers.
The dream of traveling north of St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River was made possible when Congress approved the Upper Minneapolis Harbor Development Project in 1937. This project included the construction of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam that was completed in 1963.
With a lift of 49 feet, the lock at St. Anthony Falls accounts for more than 10% of the total height change of the Mississippi River between the Twin Cities and St. Louis, MO. In 2015, the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam closed to river navigation. The Lower St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam remains open as the head of navigation on the Upper Mississippi River's 9-foot channel.
The area's historic milling district, using the power of falling water at St. Anthony Falls, first gained prominence with the construction of large-scale lumber milling from logs floated down the Mississippi from central and northern Minnesota pine forests. Flour milling boomed later and numerous mills along this stretch of river changed the way food was produced, marketed, and distributed and changed the way we think about food.
Free ranger-led walking tours of the lock and dam are offered when the Visitor Center is open. Subjects of the staff-led tours include the lively history of the river, milling, and other topics. We do not provide tours to groups or schools nor do we take reservations.
Hours, Directions, and Contact Information
Last updated: July 17, 2023