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Published March 18, 2012, 03:15 PM

1st Tow Boat, Barges Head up Mississippi River

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The shipping navigation season has started a bit earlier than normal as the first tow boat and barges traveled north on the Mississippi River.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The shipping navigation season has started a bit earlier than normal as the first tow boat and barges traveled north on the Mississippi River.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the MV Deana Ann tow boat out of Kentucky opened the season Saturday. The Deana Ann moved seven barges through the lock and dams in Red Wing and Hastings before arriving in St. Paul on Saturday night.

Over the last 30 years, the average opening date is March 20. Last year, the navigation season didn't open until March 31.

The earliest opening date has been March 4, which happened in 1984, 2000 and 2001. The latest was April 7 in 1978.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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