Corps of Engineers Dam and Recreational Park
The Corps of Engineers dam, located at the site of the Campground, controls the level of the entire Chain. The dam, originally built out of wood in 1886, was upgraded to concrete between 1904-07. In 1920 the operating system for the dam was modified to reflect the lock system installed on the Mississippi River in and near the Twin Cities. No longer was the main purpose of the Cross Lake dam to help supply enough water for shipping on the Mississippi, but rather to handle the ever increasing recreational use of the Chain.
Crosslake’s oldest historical site, this area was surveyed by Joseph N. Nicollet in 1836 as a part of his Survey of the Upper Mississippi Territory. In 1880 Congress appropriated money, made the necessary settlements with the Indians, and work was begun on the Pine River Dam. The dam was completed in 1886. Some of the original wooden timbers are now covered with concrete and remain a part of the dam you see today. Just north of the dam itself is the Recreational Park and Campground. There are two swimming beaches, a playground, many scenic campsites and boat access to Crosslake. As you drive or walk into the campground, look to your right for an interpretive panel that tells the story of the dam tender and read how Babe the Blue Ox helped create the dam. The Crosslake dam is also featured in the first series of Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway playing cards.