Photographs from the Mississippi River Drawdown

>> Monday, October 12, 2020

In case you're not local and/or haven't heard, we had some fun sights over at the Mississippi River in Minneapolis last week. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were inspecting the dams at Saint Anthony Falls, so they opened the lower dam and let the river drop to a level I’d never seen before - I heard a news source say it was 12 feet down (and that's from the height that it's REGULATED at, so there's little variation in its normal height). It was totally surreal, and it caused crowds to come see it. Here's an instagram post I made on Friday:

Took the boys to check out the “drawdown” between the dams tonight. They thought it was pretty epic (their word). It’s filling up again, and it’s maybe 2 feet up since I was there at 4 a.m. this morning. Quite the scene.

A crowded Stone Arch Bridge around 6 p.m.

The water to the left was there 14 hours prior, but the water
in the right/middle wasn't - it had started filling back up.

This is usually all underwater.

We found a crayfish crawling around.

St. Anthony Falls in the distance.

Walking into Father Hennepin Park (all this stone is usually shallow, but underwater).


Heading home.

I went to Google Maps and found some images to show a bit what it USUALLY looks like:

That's the Stone Arch Bridge. All that water north of the bridge was
gone (that was the pic when we were walking into Fr. Hennepin Park).
In fact, there was only water in the lower left corner of this image.

Last week, the bottom 1/3 of this image was all beach
(which is 3/4 of the visible water here).

There would have been virtually NO water visible in this pic last week.

Father Hennepin Park: this was all stone and sand.

During the drawdown from a TPT article: the view south of the Stone Arch Bridge.
(180 degrees from the last photo.)

Google already has a few views of the drawdown uploaded!

So I stopped by 2 times to take photos for my 4 a.m. series. (Check out some of my photo stuff on my other blog.) First I stopped by on Wednesday, but there were a LOT of people around at 4 a.m., and at least some of them were on something. Others were there with angle grinders looking for metal to sell for scrap. Others had headlights and were looking for treasures. Here's a picture I made that morning before being scared off:

[click these following images to enlarge]

Then I got a photo of the fall colors from under the Hennepin Ave Bridge from Nicollet Island:

I went back Friday morning because I wanted to get more. I asked someone to come with me (for at least some slight "safety in numbers"), but he was afraid of dragging ass at work all day Friday (understandably so) and decided not to. But because the drawdown was technically over (I think they closed that dam the night before), there weren't nearly the same number of people down there - I only saw 3 guys carrying some scrap, and 1 waved to me which made me not nearly as concerned about them.

This is the driftwood you can see in the satellite view (normally surrounded by water).

Way down to the river, across a block or 2 of beach that usually isn't there.

The "under bridge lights" (which normally are NOT on this time of day)
turned off around 4:30 a.m., so I was able to make some lower-contrast images.

That slight blue cast on the bridge in the distance is from the I35W bridge lights nearly a 1/2 mile away.

In that last pic, you can see how "small" that puddle is in the foreground. That's the same puddle from the 2nd pic in this post (with the back of my boys), only in that pic, it extends all the way to the river to the south, and the 100-200 feet of sand out-of-frame to the left of that last photo was underwater. So just as a guess, I figured it rose about 2' in those 14 hours from Friday morning to Friday night. We haven't been back since, but I'm assuming it's very close to it's normal level now (although once it gets closer to being filled, there's more surface area to fill, so maybe it still has a way to go). What a sight to see!

If you're interested, you can find more of my photography on my Photo Blog or on Instagram at @photostenzel.


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