Two features in the local central Minnesota area that are connected yet 5 miles apart are the Sartell Dam and Little Rock Lake. So, you may ask, what connects the two? The answer is, the Mississippi River!
The Sartell Dam is across the Mississippi River in Sartell, MN and generates hydroelectric power for the Sartell Paper Mill, owned and operated by Verso Paper. Started in 1907, and finished in 1911, the dam was originally built with wood planks, field stones and granite, as well as 25,000 barrels of concrete. Upon its completion in 1911, the dam created an elevated river level, and the back flowage became Little Rock Lake. The dam was rebuilt between 1960 and 1964, continuing to feed Little Rock Lake.
Little Rock Lake sits 5 miles to the northeast (of the St Cloud/Sartell Metro area) along US Highway 10, and is accessible from the Mississippi River through the Harris Channel (a smaller body of water between the river and lake) by passing under 2 bridges. Little Rock Lake is quite large at 1,310 acres, and has a maximum depth of 23 feet, although the level can be increased with the river flowage, resulting in flooding possibilities on the lake. Severe spring thaw and rains have caused some of these issues in the past. As a matter of fact, the paper company bought up property on Little Rock Lake decades ago, then sold it back to the owners retaining flowage rights.
Little Rock Lake is also fed by smaller rivers and streams at the north end, where wetlands are present. The Lake is a part of the Mississippi Goose Refuge, and has abundant waterfowl and fish, including the famous Minnesota Walleye and Black Crappie. Since Little Rock Lake is connected to the river it has all the fish species you find in the Mississippi River, including Channel Catfish and Dogfish. It is a great body of water and close to St. Cloud, wonderful for a quick ice fishing trip, or shore fishing under one of the bridges for an easy panfish dinner!
The Sartell Dam and Little Rock Lake are more than points of interest. They are a picture of the connection between the people of Minnesota and the natural environment we enjoy, and the ebb and flow of life lived near the water. The Dam and Paper Mill mean good jobs and a strong economy, plus clean energy! Without Sartell Dam, Little Rock Lake would not exist, except as a low meadow for grazing that would be very wet in the springtime. But, the river will rise, and flood insurance and sandbags come in handy those years. I have seen the water coming out of the dams floodgates horizontally, for days at a time during spring thaw. Homes built more recently employed more fill, resulting in higher elevations and raised septic systems, giving us better life through engineering :) There are many beautiful homes available on Harris Channel, Little Rock Lake and in Sartell, if you are interested in buying or selling a home in this area give me a call or check out my Saint Cloud area real estate website, I would be happy to help you.
For those of you who have been following along in the series wonderful reasons to love living in central Minnesota and the Saint Cloud area, this is the 100th post in 100 days. Wow, we did it. Keep checking back as there are more reasons to love living here and we will continue to keep you well informed on this wonderful lifestyle in central Minnesota.