This was the first major reservoir built on the Mississippi River. The US Army Corps of Engineers report that the dam and reservoir were built to be a resource that would benefit the entire nation. Water released from northern reservoirs would help make the shipping season more predictable and safer. Today, the dam is used to keep the lake at a constant level of 1,297 feet above sea level. The shipping lanes are now managed by downstream locks and dams, leaving the lake available for recreational purposes.
The lake is 67,000 acres, with about 140 miles of shoreline. Unlike lakes in the Brainerd Lakes area, Winnibigoshish remains mostly undeveloped. As the fifth largest lake in Minnesota, it is considered to be the crown jewel for fishing, and some of the best walleye fishing in the world. One key to the excellent fish habitat is that this lake is located on a major river, which keeps the lake flushed clean.
The photo above is the downriver face of the dam as seen from the north river bank. The photo below is a view of water flowing out of the dam as seen from the north side of the structure.