HASTINGS, Minn. — It's been a cold April in Minnesota, but a sign of spring arrived when a towboat pushing 12 barges en route to St. Paul passed through Lock and Dam 2 on the Mississippi River near Hastings.

The Army Corps of Engineers considers the arrival of the first tow at the dam as the unofficial start to the navigation season on the upper Mississippi River.

The arrival of the Motor Vessel Michael Poindexter at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday marked the latest arrival of the first tow for reasons unrelated to flooding, a mark set April 8, 2013. Historic flooding in 2001 delayed the first tow that year until May 11.

Last year, the first tow to reach Lock and Dam 2 was the Stephen L. Colby, which locked through on March 9.