Hastings, MN (KROC AM News) - The 2016 shipping season on the Upper Mississippi River opened over the weekend.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the Motor Vessel Ronald Wagonblast locked through Lock and Dam 2 near Hastings (Minnesota)  Sunday morning. The vessel was on its way to St. Paul with 12 barges.  

The Corps considers the first tow to arrive at the lock as the unofficial start of the navigation season, because it means all locks are now accessible to commercial and recreational vessels.

The earliest date for an upbound tow to reach Lock and Dam 2 was March 4, in 1983, 1984 and 2000. The season opened last year on March 25th. The average start date of the navigation season is March 22. The early start this year was the result of thin ice covering Lake Pepin.  

The St. Paul District maintains a 9-foot navigation channel and operates 12 locks and dams to support navigation from Minneapolis to Guttenberg, Iowa.