The #MNGFO2017 took place in St. Cloud this year and because the town straddles the Mississippi River, it only makes sense to spend some time on the water. Boating, sailing or even rowing the mighty Mississippi can be incredibly difficult because of the large boulders, down trees and obstacles hidden below the undercurrent. The colossal waterway calls for something less conventional – enter the Jet Boat. Since it doesn’t have out drives or props, you can cruise without the same constraints AND they are just plain fun to be on.
Of course, Jill from Shine On Photos and I had to try it out. Going upstream, we made it to the St. Cloud Dam which is just walking distance from the Munsinger Gardens and the Clemens Gardens, just across from the St. Cloud State University Stadium. We got up close and personal with the 21.5 feet high dam and its three-foot flip-up gate on its top that raises the water level. The original dam at this location dated from 1887-8 was made of stone, oak and pine and was replaced by a concrete dam in 1970. In 1988, the current hydroelectric generation facility was built, creating 85-foot-long spillway bays that can discharge a total of 3,600 cubic feet of water per second. It is even used by the hydrology classes at SCSU. It produces 8.86 megawatts and generates more than 60 million kilowatt hours of electrical energy annually, which would be like burning 7,000 tons of coal. The dam is the largest city-owned hydroelectric facility in the state. How cool is that?!