Dubuque towboat to start early Mississippi navigation season

DUBUQUE — An Iowa towboat is headed upstream from Dubuque and it appears there will be an early start to the navigation season on the Upper Mississippi River.

Al VanGuilder with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, says there are already some areas of open water at Lake Pepin along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. “On the upper end of the lake, there’s still some pretty decent ice,” VanGuilder says, “but as far as the towing industry goes, the ice is thin enough for them to think about making a run up to St. Paul and busting the ice through the lake.”

VanGuilder says the ice appears to be thin enough for the boats to power right through. “So there’s two towboats in our district,” he says. “There’s one in Winona right now and another one coming up from Dubuque and it sounds like they’re going to be going up to St. Paul together and breaking through the ice on Saturday morning.”

Saturday’s date is March 11th, while the shipping season opened on March 21st last year. “You know, we always say the unofficial start of spring is when the first towboat makes it through Lake Pepin,” VanGuilder says.

The first barge usually arrives in St. Paul around the third week in March.