The Patrick Gannaway approached Lower St. Anthony lock on Wednesday morning with a tow of two barges destined for Aggregate Industries in north Minneapolis.

The barges represent one of the first commercial loads through Minneapolis in a barge shipping season that opened Sunday at the twin locks of St. Anthony Falls.  It's also the last shipping season under a congressional mandate to close the upper lock by June 10 in an effort to stem the migration of invasive carp up the Mississippi.

The Becky Sue was the first commercial boat through Minneapolis on Sunday, pushing two empty barges upriver to Northern Metal Recycling for loading. The much busier St. Paul port saw its first upriver load on March 25.

The Patrick Gannaway is ferrying sand and gravel to Aggregate Industries Yard D near the Burlington Northern Santa Fe bridge, where it likely will go into ready-mix concrete. The loads are quarried at the firm's Grey Cloud Island quarry and shipped through St. Paul. The firm is trying to ship four barges daily through the falls to build inventory at the yard before the lock closure, which is predicted to put more trucks on Twin Cities roads

The last upper lock season will be the 53rd since the locks opened in 1963. The lower lock and Ford lock will remain open on limited hours, which helps pleasure craft, but all commercial loads headed for Minneapolis went to the upper harbor. A citizen advisory committee recently recommended that the Park Board develop portages around the falls locks for potrtable craft such as canoes and kayaks.

(Photo: The Patrick Gannaway nears the Lower St. Anthony lock, which is just upstream of the 10th Avenue and 35W bridges, on Wednesday morning.Staff photo by Steve Brandt)