By Jason DeRusha


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This month, the city of Minneapolis is opening doors to places the public typically can’t go.

You probably have driven by the St. Anthony Falls, but how close have you really been?

WCCO This Morning is taking you closer to the falls than you’ve ever been before: on top of the Minneapolis Lock and Dam.

It’s where the Mississippi River goes from a trickle to a roar.

The Upper St. Anthony Lock and Dam is where barges went from Minneapolis to the Gulf.

Our city grew up around it.

“It’s not that the falls are in downtown Minneapolis, its that downtown Minneapolis is at the falls,” said Dan Dressler with the National Park Service.

Dressler is taking us as close to the St. Anthony Falls as you can get.

On this rainy day, the falls are rocking — 24,000 cubic feet of water per second crash.

“I never get tired of looking at the falls, especially when they’re high like this,” said Dressler.

The juxtaposition is stark: the majesty of the falls next to the concrete and steel of the lock.

Once a critical part of the Mississippi River’s infrastructure, the city closed it to boat traffic, partially to keep invasive Asian carp contained.

Mike DeRusha just retired as the longtime lockmaster.

The gravel and sand that used to travel down the river by barge through this lock now goes by truck.

“It was kinda sad to see it end, but we were directed by the WRDA bill of 2014 and we follow our orders,” said DeRusha.

Today the lock’s gate has been refurbished and repurposed to control flooding.

Joe Minnis is the new lockmaster.

“The flow could get so great, the falls couldn’t take the flow,” explained Minnis. “The banks of the Mississippi above us could slowly start to rise.”

Change is constant on this river, as it is in the city.

The falls and the lock give an up-close view of that constant ebb and flow.

Jason DeRusha

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