First Barge of the Season Passes Through Lake Pepin
Lake City, MN (KROC-AM News) - It is always a welcome sight and a sure sign that Spring has arrived.
The US Army Corps of Engineers today reported the Motor Vessel W. Red Harris had broken through the remaining ice on Lake Pepin to unofficially kick off the start of the 2022 commercial navigation season on the Upper Mississippi River. The W. Red Harris started its journey in St. Louis and is pushing nine barges to St. Paul. As of late Monday afternoon, it was just north of Red Wing with three other barges following close behind and traversing Lake Pepin.
The often thick ice on the lake represents the last major barrier for commercial vessels to reach St. Paul, which is the head of the navigation channel on the river. The US Army Corps of Engineers says today's passage by the W. Red Harris was about average for the first tow of the season to get past Lake Pepin.
The 30 year average for the opening day of the navigation season has been March 20th. It occurred on March 19 last year. The earliest that a river tow and the barges heading upriver reached Lock and Dam 2 at Hastings was March 4, which occurred in 1983, 1984, and 2000. According to the Corps of Engineers, the latest arrival, outside years when major flooding was occurring, was April 4 in 2008. The navigation season did not begin until May 11 in 2001 due to the historic flooding that occurred that year.