Shipping season comes to an end on Upper Mississippi River

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There’s no ice yet, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officially closed the Upper Mississippi River shipping season on Monday, Dec.3, the Associated Press reports. That's two days sooner than last year. The 2012 navigation season opened on March 17.

Crews will now begin winter renovation and maintenance at Lock and Dam No. 6 near Trempealeau County Wisconsin, according to WCCO. Patrick Moes, with the Corp, said "the closure here doesn’t have anything to do with the drought conditions that are impacting navigation south of St. Louis."

In November, commodities giant Cargill and other ag firms feared low water levels could make the river impassable to barges and they would have to look for alternatives to get this year’s crops to the Gulf of Mexico.

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It's a harbinger of winter: the Corps of Engineers has closed the lock and dam near La Crosse for maintenance and renovation. Encroaching ice would have blocked navigation any day now, anyway.

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