Preserving the rich history of dredge Thompson

On this date in 1937, the Dredge Thompson was first placed into operation on the Mississippi River near Lansing, Iowa.

Dredge William A. Thompson in Prairie Du Chien, Wis. (USACE photo)

Built by Dravo Corporation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and with the price tag of $846.130, the dredge was christened by the granddaughter of William Thompson.

The hydraulic dredge Thompson was the biggest single piece of equipment used by the St. Paul District. The vessel is 267 feet long from the tip of the cutterhead to its stern. It was 48 feet wide and had a minimum bridge-clearing elevation of 52 feet, 9 inches. It had a 22-inch intake and 20-inch discharge. The vessel could dredge to a depth of 26 feet and cut a channel 350 feet wide from one mooring.

In order to maintain a three-shift operation the 1,370-ton dredge can carry up to 66 persons for a four-crew complement to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Thompson normally dredged 1.5 to 2 million cubic yards each year. During the Dredge Thompson’s first 50 years of service 102,951,300 cubic yards of material passed through its pump.

The Dredge Thompson was replaced by the Dredge William L. Goetz, which was christened on June 24, 2005, at the Winona Levee Park, in Winona, Minnesota.

The Thompson continued to serve as a quarters boat until 2008. In 2012, the Thompson was sold to Community Development Alternatives in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin. It departed on its last voyage on June, 12, 2012, arriving at its new home the following day.

CDA is working to preserve the Thompson and its rich history of service on the Upper Mississippi River. CDA is currently developing plans to convert the Dredge Thompson into a Museum of River Transportation.