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Places to go: Lock and Dam No. 2

Lock and Dam No. 2 in Hastings is one of a series of locks on the Mississippi River.

The Hastings Lock and Dam, the second in a series of locks down the Mississippi River, is a great place to witness the importance of the mighty river.

Barges as long as three football fields navigate their way up and down the Mississippi through the lock, which is designed to keep a minimum 9-foot channel for navigation.

The lock works in a few steps, and are quite easy to follow. The lock is broken down into three areas. The first area is approached by the boat, while the operators of the lock fill a center chamber area with water. Once the water level of the center chamber equals the water level where the boat waits, a pair of gates opens to let the boat into the center. Then the gates close, and water is let out of the center chamber until the water level equals that of the water downstream. Then the gates on the other side of the center channel open and the boat enters the river.

Employees on the barges work for approximately 30 days, then have three weeks off. On the barges, they work in six-hour shifts for the entire day, equaling 12 hours of work per day.

What you need to know

Lock and Dam No. 2

To find the Lock and Dam, take Lock and Dam Boulevard north from East Second Street. The road is just a couple blocks west of the Highway 61 south bridge approach over the Mississippi. There is a free observatory where visitors can watch the process.