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Minneapolis St. Paul News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | Minneapolis, Minnesota | kare11.com

Towboat marks start of Mississippi River navigation season in Minnesota

The R. Clayton McWhorter passed through Lock and Dam 3 near Welch on Friday afternoon.
Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
The towboat R. Clayton McWhorter passes through the lock and dam at Lake Pepin Friday.

WELCH, Minnesota — The first Mississippi River towboat has marked the unofficial start of the 2021 navigation season. 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials say the Motor Vehicle R. Clayton McWhorter passed through Lock and Dam 3 near Welch on Friday afternoon.

The Pioneer Press reports that the tow originated in the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois and was pushing 12 barges en route to St. Paul. It had earlier passed through Lake Pepin, which borders Minnesota and Wisconsin. 

The lake is the last major barrier to spring navigation because its ice is the last part of the river to break up. 

The Corps says a 15-barge tow can move as much bulk commodities as 1,050 semis or more than 200 rail cars.