Thursday, March 6, 2008

Drawdown of the St. Anthony Pool

The Army Corps of Engineers recently drew the St. Anthony Pool of the Mississippi River down 13 feet below it's normal level in order to facilitate the inspection of the Bassett Creek tunnel. FMR organized tours for the public, led by National Park Service rangers and historians John Anfinson and Dave Wiggins.

When we first started planning this day, we were only going to do one tour. We thought we would have to put in extra work to fill it too, given that it was an outdoor tour in the middle of the winter, during the middle of a weekday. When we had almost 100 registrations overnight after barely putting the word out, we realized we were very wrong. We worked some quick magic to add more tours, and had every one filled within a matter of a couple days. So when the weather forecast suddenly changed from around 20 degrees to below zero, we were pretty irritated! We should have realized though, that Minnesotans are a hearty folk! I couldn't believe the turnout, and even the people on the first tour of the day, when it was -10 with a windchill of -27, were all smiles! Unbelievable!

Our super-volunteer Tim Boyle joined me, and when he wasn't helping me with organizational stuff he was taking amazing photos! These first two photos are his, and if you'd like to see more, check out this site:

There was quite a bit of media coverage of the event, but my favorite video was from the Star Tribune (and not because I was in it). They talked to a lot of different people, had some great narration from Dave Wiggins, and captured some beautiful footage of the steam coming off the river during the frigid morning. Minnesota Public Radio also covered it, as did Kare 11, and KSTP. One of our members who attended a tour posted some photos on Flickr which prompted lots of discussion and photo sharing. And my friend Peter Kastler took this great photo (at left).

If you weren't able to make one of the tours, I recommend checking out the links to photos or media coverage in this post. We hope to have a video of the tour to post here soon, so check back!

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