The Coon Rapids dam was built in 1913 by the Northern Mississippi Power Company. It took 1,000 men just a little over 1 year to complete the entire dam system. During construction, a small town grew up on the Anoka County side of the river, complete with barracks, hospitals, fire stations and even dance halls.
Nestled in the woods above the river floodplain, the West Coon Rapids Dam Visitor Center in Brooklyn Park focuses on the Natural History of the Mississippi River. The park provides safe and easy access to the river for investigating water quality. Hands-on programs cover the physical, chemical, and biological health of the Mississippi River.
There are extensive trails for hiking, bicycling, skiing and snowshoeing. Some of the best bird watching in the metro area can be found in this park.