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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Granite Falls Dam
Minnesota River Dam
Granite Falls, MN

Granite Falls Dam

• Structure: Granite Falls Dam.
• Location: River Mile 252.9.
• Dam Width: 300 Feet.
• River Elevation (Pool): 909 Feet.
• River Elevation (Outflow): 881 Feet.
• Water Fall: 18 Feet.
• Date Built: 1911.
The Granite Falls Dam was built in the late 1800s to supply mechanical power to a mill. It was abandoned in 1896. The City of Granite Falls bought the dam in 1911 and installed hydro power generators. The hydro plant was recently upgraded with more efficient equipment, resulting in a total electrical output of 1.2-Megawatts. The city hydro plant manager suggests that this is enough energy to supply the needs of 70% of the city.

This dam is a run of the river style dam. That is, it does not have a large storage reservoir behind the dam. As a result, each drop of water that enters the dam pool on a given day has to exit the dam that very same day. It also means that in periods of lower river flow levels, the dam produces less electrical output.

The city of Granite Falls is considering the purchase of a second abandoned dam on the Minnesota River just downstream from the city at Minnesota Falls. As of 2008, the city is studying the possibility of converting this dam into a second hydroelectric plant. It has been suggested that both dams will work in tandem to generate electricity twice from each drop of water that flows down the river.

The photo above is looking upstream towards the downriver side of the Granite Falls Dam from the deck of the nearby Walking Bridge. The high water flow from the spring runoff make for a lot of noise and a surprising amount of spray.

Granite Falls Dam
These two photos are looking northeast across the Minnesota River from just below the Granite Falls Dam. The photo above is the dam spillway, while the photo below includes a view of the dam control gate and power plant. The bridge in the background carries Oak Street across the dam pool.

Granite Falls Dam
Granite Falls Dam
These two photos are looking east across the Minnesota River towards the dam control gates and power plant. The output power substation is visible behind the power plant building in the photo below.

Granite Falls Dam
Granite Falls Dam
These two photos are views from the spring food of 2010. The river is higher than the water levels in the 2008 photos above, but it has not significantly overflowed its banks.

Granite Falls Dam

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