Saint Anthony Falls was the result of a major engineering effort. In 1870 the Missouri River arrived at its present level during the annual summer flood of the Rocky Mountains. Engineers estimated the flood would cover the valley, but decided that the damage would be less than the damage caused from storms over the previous three winters. They built an engineering marvel to take the pressure off the river as it flowed over the dam. The dam was the work of engineers and scientists and when the dam came into operation, the river came up to its lowest state yet, and filled the valley within hours. The Great Falls Dam served as an ecological and cultural marvel for decades. It’s clear that it was not the kind of project that could be built everywhere. Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains the St. Anthony Falls locks and darns.
It is interesting to explore the history of dam design in the United States. The legal framework was subsequently adopted by Minneapolis in 1934 was again challenged during the Depression decades of the 1930s by a number of business-backed initiatives of the era. It was eventually repealed in 1943. A series of civic and state-wide pro-union initiatives culminated in a labor-backed law passed prohibiting private employers from retaliating against workers for exercising their labor rights. The Congress approved the Upper Minneapolis Harbor Development Project in the year 1937.
The falls are a popular attraction for visitors and locals alike, and it is the largest waterfall in the state of Minnesota.
The falls were formed by the confluence of the Little and Big Rivers, which formed in the late Pleistocene epoch, approximately 10,000 years.
Thanks to ongoing care and preservation, today we can still admire a masterpiece of nature mixed with ingenious human skill.