The observation decks of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Lock and Dam No. 1 on the Mississippi River near Minnehaha Park are open daily for curious onlookers to watch craft come and go through the slender water passageways. But either the stars must align when planning your outing — or you’ve got the inside scoop that the best day to visit is the Saturday of Highland Fest in St. Paul — in order to get your kids up into the lock’s control tower. Even better, get their little hands on the actual equipment that powers the system, allowing leisure craft to skirt the falls at the dam. The Lockmaster made sure each of my kids from the preschooler to the tween had a turn at the helm.
Families can still get a great view of the boats passing through the lock on their way to St. Anthony Falls from the observation platforms around the visitor promenade. There are artifacts plunked down on the path to the center, and exhibits on the walls to learn more about the history of shipping on the Upper Mississippi.
Operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the annual open house at Lock and Dam No. 1 also included exhibits on water safety and a homemade model lock.
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