LAKE CITY, Minn. — The Motor Vessel Miss Doris, originating from the Quad Cities in Iowa and Illinois and pushing 12 barges en route to St. Paul, entered Lake Pepin at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, and passed Lake City about noon.

“Lake Pepin on the Mississippi River is the last major barrier for vessels reaching the head of the navigation channel in St. Paul,” said George Stringham in a written statement from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District. “The lake is the last part of the river to break up, because the river is wider and subsequently the current is slower there than it is at other reaches of the river. If a tow can make it through Lake Pepin, it can make it all the way to St. Paul.”

In 2018, the first tow came through April 11, and last year, with the late and harsh winter, the first tow didn't make it through Lake Pepin until April 24.

An eagle flies past the Motor Vessel Miss Doris during the first crossing of Lake Pepin this season. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia
An eagle flies past the Motor Vessel Miss Doris during the first crossing of Lake Pepin this season. Steve Gardiner / RiverTown Multimedia

The St. Paul District maintains a 9-foot navigation channel and operates 12 locks and dams to support navigation from Minneapolis to Guttenberg, Iowa.

“Keeping this system open is vital to the nation’s economy,” Stringham wrote. “The commercial navigation industry estimates an annual average savings of nearly $270 million by using the inland waterways instead of overland shipping methods.”