Coon Rapids Dam

Construction of the Dam

Construction of the Coon Rapids Hydroelectric Power Dam began in January 1913 by the Northern Mississippi River Power Company. It was built on choice acreage of the M.E. Dunn Farm on the eastern shore of the Mississippi River in Anoka County, near Coon Creek, for the purpose of generating electricity to be used in Anoka and Hennepin Counties. The Coon Rapids Dam was completed in late March 1914. The hydroelectric power station house was completed in the late summer of that year and went into service on August 1, 1914, the same month that the "Guns of August" were to roar across the ocean in Europe bringing America closer to World War I.

Dam Measurements & Details

  • The dam is made of earth and solid concrete construction resting on steel and wood piling, founded on river sand and a hard layer of firm clay subsoil over bedrock.
  • The total length of the Coon Rapids from the end of one embankment to the end of the other is approximately 2,150 feet, or just 490 feet short of 1/2 mile.
  • Over 42,000 cubic yards of concrete went into the dam, and over 800 carloads of crushed rock were required.
  • The concrete spillway section was 1,070 feet long with 28 gates, each 33 feet wide, with 4 sluice gates, and 1 log sluice.
  • The height of the dam above the lowest point of the original bed stream is 13 feet. The normal differential between the headwater and the tailwater is 19 feet.
  • The old power house on the east shore contained a pump, a superintendent's dwelling, garage, and several miscellaneous structures. The power house was about 200 feet in length, 80 feet in width, and 36 1/2 feet high.

Hydroelectric Power Station

Wires were strung for the transmission of electricity. In 1916, the property and rights of the Mississippi River Electric Power Company were purchased by Northern States Power Company and they leased out the property to the Minneapolis General Electric Company, who later merged with Northern States Power Company. As time passed, this dam and its hydroelectric power station served Anoka and Hennepin County citizens, Coon Rapids included, for half a century. By 1966, however, electrical demands grew so rapidly that the hydroelectric power station was no longer economically feasible, and so its use was officially discontinued on December 31, 1966. After 52 years of operation and service the electric generating and transmission equipment was removed from the power house.

Coon Rapids Regional Park

In December 1969, the ownership of the land and the Coon Rapids Dam was transferred to the Hennepin County Park Reserve District. This became the basis for developing the Coon Rapids Dam and surrounding 360 acres of land (225 of which are on the Anoka County side) into the beautifully new completed Coon Rapids Regional Park completed in mid-September 1978. The county public park facilities feature a 1,070-foot concrete walkway with an elevated observation deck spanning the entire Mississippi River between Hennepin and Anoka Counties. This deck gives visitors an intimate, exciting, and breathtaking view of the immense force of the water rushing through-the spillway gates on its way southward to Minneapolis.