MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This week presents a rare opportunity to see part of the Mississippi River like we haven’t seen in over a decade. A drawdown on the the river is exposing a unique landscape that hundreds are flocking to see.

“Today we are looking at a drawdown of the Mississippi river between upper St. Anthony Falls lock and lower St. Anthony falls lock,” said Nan Bischoff, Project Manager for the Army Corps Engineers of St. Paul.

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For inspection purposes, the Army Corps Of Engineers opened the lower St. Anthony falls dam allowing the reservoir between the upper and lower lock to drain dropping the river level by 12 feet.

(credit: CBS)

“This is interesting in the sense that you will see the natural Mississippi, the rapids that used to be here for the first time in 12 years,” said John Anfinson, Superintendent of the National Mississippi River Recreational Area.

The last time the army corps of engineers drew down the river was in 2008 – so it’s been 12 years since we have seen this type of landscape. This exposes more of the rocks, and the sand in the river. You will even be able to see more of the bridge structures and more of the edges of the river.

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Jim Merrill of the Minnesota Metal Detecting Club is using this opportunity to explore the river bottom.

“You know how with the river flows and things just roll down the river and we are searching for those treasures,” he said.

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The upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam will be open to visitors through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Park rangers and volunteers will be on hand to answer questions.

Lisa Meadows