Once the logging era was nearly played out, Northern States Power gained rights to the falls. They constructed the concrete arched dam that we see today. It has a 675 foot long arched dam 59 feet tall, one wide gate that serves both as a log sluice and overflow gate, a power plant that is 291 feet wide, and a secondary dike on the Minnesota side that is 785 feet long. The dam went on-line in 1907. It produces 25-megawatts of electrical power. Funds from selling the power is used to offset local property taxes, resulting in Saint Croix Falls having lower total taxation than a typical Wisconsin resident would expect to pay.
To help build the dam, NSP also purchased the Nevers Dam 11 miles upstream. The Nevers Dam was used to hold back water at critical points in the project to allow construction to move forward more quickly. After the new hydro dam went on-line, the Nevers Dam was used to smooth out the flow of water arriving at Saint Croix Falls allowing the powerdam to maximize its output. The Nevers Dam became a maintenance problem, and was later ordered to be kept open certain times of the year. With the Nevers Dam no longer able to store any seasonal run-off water, it became less useful to NSP. As a result, shortly after the Nevers Dam was damaged in the spring run-off in 1954, NSP choose to remove Nevers Dam the following year.
As the turn of the century approached, environmentalists started calling for the Saint Croix Falls Dam to be removed. They state that the uneven river flow down stream hurts the fish population and it helps the growth of invasive Zebra Mussels. While it is unlikely that the dam will be removed, it is fun to think how spectacular the restored waterfalls would be, and what its potential positive impact on tourism might be.
The photo at the top of the page is a view of the back side of the horseshoe shaped main dam structure. The photo below is a view of the dam looking north upriver from the US-8 highway bridge at Taylors Falls. The dam is easily visible using a telephoto lens.