Job: Lockmaster of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock
Salary: $60,000 to $80,000 a year
Background: I grew up in Minneapolis, graduated from high school in 1971 and served about 21 years in the Navy.
Where did you serve? All over. East Coast, West Coast. I did a year down at the South Pole, at McMurdo Station 600 miles from the South Pole.
How long have you had this job? I've been with the Army Corps of Engineers [which operates the locks and dams] about 17 years. And I've been lockmaster for four years.
What were you doing before becoming lockmaster? I worked at Lock Two for three years and then before that I was up here at the Lower St. Anthony Lock.
When you were working at the other locks, what position did you have? A lockman. Basically you start out as a lockman and then you advance to head operator. Head operators run the shifts during my absence.
What do you like best about your job? You get to meet different people. The boaters. And I like the variety of work ... Everyday is just a little different.
Did your experience in the military prepare you to do anything here? Aboard ship, in the Navy, I did all the welding, sheet metal work, carpentry and plumbing. So I got a good mechanical background and that's what's really handy for working on a lock and dam. You have to be good with your hands. Like today, kind of mundane, but I was out running the snow blower.
So you don't just stay in the office? I try not to. Some days I can't get out. ... But there'll be days where I'll be out there locking boats, depending on who I have around.
Where do the boats come from? The towboats come from St. Paul. But you'll get recreational craft from all over.
Did the 2007 collapse of the I-35W bridge affect your work at all? It affected us in that no traffic was going up or down because the river was blocked. It shut us down. I think it was about six weeks later that we finally opened. We helped [crews] by drawing down the pool. So when the divers [were] underwater we drew down the upper pool a little bit, which helped draw the flows down so the divers could go in there.
What do you do in the winter when no boats can be locked through? We have other maintenance jobs going on. It gives us a couple months in the winter when we can actually catch up on maintenance. Further down the river, other districts are locking year-round. They don't have that luxury we have up here.
What was the transition from military personnel to lock-and-dam worker like? Things are different. Basically in the military, you're a salaried worker. You have a job where you work 70- to 80-hour weeks. And here, you work an hour past 40 and you get time and a half.
Do you like one job more than the other? I miss the people from the military. And we have military members here. So I have a little bond with them. But here it's just a different environment. On ship, you're actually living with these people for 24 hours a day, days on, days off. Where here, at the end of the day, everyone goes home. It's just different, but still a great place to work.